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tihx<^xy of t:he t:heolo0ical ^eminarjo 





BV 167 .Mil 1896 
Macalister, Robert Alexander 
Stewart, 1870-1950. 
- Ecclesiastical vestments 






Brass of Simon de Wenslagh (circ. 1360), Wensley, 
Yorkshire (showing the Eucharistic vestments of a priest of 
the Western Church). 



^hcir Bebclopmcitt anb 2|tstarB 



Member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 




WITHIN comparatively recent years the 
discovery has been made that it is 
possible to treat the Bible, for critical 
purposes, as though it were an ordinary item of 
national literature, while maintaining a fitting 
reverence for it as the inspired Word ; and that 
by so doing a flood of sidelight is cast upon it 
which illuminates the obscurity of some of its most 
dlflicult passages. 

So, to compare lesser things with greater, it is 
possible and advisable to discard all feeling of 
ecclesiastlclsm (so to term it) when speaking of 
ecclesiastical antiquities. The science of eccle- 
siology is of comparatively recent growth, and 
it has hitherto suffered much at the hands of 
those who have approached it not so much to 
learn the plain lessons it teaches, as to force it to 
declare the existence or non-existence in early or 

viii Preface. 

mediaeval times of certain rites and observances. 
While we should treat ancient churches and their 
furniture with respect — a respect which should 
not be denied to the despised, though often quaint 
and interesting, high pews and west galleries — 
as being edifices or instruments formed for the 
use of the worshippers of God, yet for antiquarian 
purposes they should be examined and dissected in 
exactly the same spirit as that in which we investi- 
gate the temples of ancient Greece, or the stone 
weapons of prehistoric man. In this spirit the 
author of the present book has worked. 

Ecclesiology, besides its sentimental connection 
with ecclesiasticism, possesses many features which 
render it the most popular branch of the great 
all-embracing science of archaeology. The objects 
with which it is concerned appeal strongly to the 
senses ; the finest works of the architect, the 
limner, the silversmith, the engraver, the em- 
broiderer, the illuminator, and the musician, come 
within its scope ; they are accessible to all who 
live within reach of an ancient church or a 
moderately good museum, and the pleasant ex- 
cursions and companionships with which its votaries 
are favoured invest its pursuit with the happiest 
associations. Above all, it lacks that terrible 
obstacle which lies at the threshold of almost 
every other subject of serious archaeological study 
— the necessity of attaining perfection in at least 

Preface. ix 

one foreign language. No one can form more 
than the merest dilettante acquaintance with the 
antiquities of India, Egypt, Greece, Ireland, or any- 
other country, without mastering the language in 
which the records of the country are written ; but 
the merest smattering of mediaeval dog-Latin is 
quite sufficient to open the door to high (not, 
perhaps, the highest') attainments in ecclesiology. 

These manifold attractions have resulted in 
hampering the study of ecclesiology with a serious 
drawback, which is wanting in nearly all the other 
branches of archaeology. The investigation of the 
marvellous antiquities of the four countries just 
mentioned — or, indeed, of almost any other 
country — can be undertaken by a student with 
the certainty that if he applies himself to it suffi- 
ciently to master the many difficulties which will, 
no doubt, present themselves, he will be in a 
position to break ground as yet untouched ; his 
knowledge will enable him to make original 
discoveries of his own. But it is far otherwise in 
ecclesiology. So easily understood are the facts of 
the subject (except in a few obscure points relating 
to the early Church) ; so definite are the statements 
of the numberless records, when the vagaries of 
symbolical theorizers are sifted away from them ; 
so countless has been, and is, the army of students, 
that the scope for research-work is reduced to a 
minimum ; hardly anything is left for the originally- 

X Preface, 

minded worker but to discover the personal names 
of the different artists whose handiworks he sees 
before him, or else to propound some startling and 
revolutionary theory respecting the use of low-side 
windows or Easter sepulchres. 

In the subdivision of ecclesiology with which 
this book is concerned, originality, whether of fact 
or treatment, is practically impossible. This work 
cannot claim to be more than a compilation, but it 
can claim to fill a space not exactly occupied by 
any other book, in that it gives in a brief and 
convenient form the principal facts connected with 
vestments and their use throughout the chief sub- 
divisions of the Christian Church ; it is not, as are 
almost all other works on the subject, confined to 
one branch only, or at most to the great Churches 
of the West and the East, but includes as well the 
smaller and more isolated communities, and those 
branches of the Universal Church which have 
undergone reformation. 

Exception may possibly be taken to the manner 
in which the alleged symbolism of vestments has 
been treated. But it is impossible to overlook the 
facts. If, as is now the opinion of every leading 
ecclesiologist, the vestments are the natural result 
of evolution from civil Roman costume, it is 
clearly ludicrous to suppose that when they were 
first worn they possessed the symbolical meanings 
they are alleged to bear ; the symbolism is as 

Preface. xi 

much an accretion as are the jewels and the em- 
broidery of the middle ages. Moreover, the 
symbolical meanings attached to them are so 
obviously the ' private judgments' of the writers 
who describe them, and are so irreconcilable and 
so far-fetched, that to the unbiased mind they do 
not appear worthy of serious treatment. 

In some recent books on ecclesiological and 
antiquarian matters Greek words are transliterated 
into English characters. This practice has not 
been followed in the present work because of the 
unsatisfactory appearance of Greek words in Roman 
dress, and because the Greek alphabet is familiar 
to all students. Words of other languages, such 
as Russian or Armenian, are, however, expressed in 
English letters, as their alphabets are not so well 
known, and they are not so easily set up in native 

I must record my indebtedness to my lamented 
friend the late Prof. Middleton for useful hints and 
assistance ; to Dr F. R. Fairbank, of St Leonard' s- 
on-Sea, for many notes and references which have 
been of great value to me, and especially for the 
loan of several blocks ; to Mr W. J. Kaye for 
the loan of a rubbing of the Sessay brass ; to the 
Rev. S. Schechter for kind assistance in questions 
which arose in the first chapter ; to the Rev. 
A. D. A. van Scheltema for information regarding 
the Church of Holland ; and for many helps and 



suggestions to my father, to whom, in acknow- 
ledgment of the interest he has throughout shown 
in the preparation of the book, I wish to dedicate 
it. A list of the principal works laid under con- 
tribution is given in an Appendix. 

R. A. S. M. 













OF VESTMENTS - - - - "137 



xiv Contents, 














INDEX ------ 262 


{For full titles of sources follozved see Appendix III) 





Bock) - - - . - _ ^ 



RAVENNA. {Rock) - - - - 46 


MUSEUM, {B/oxam) - - - - 49 


STAFF. {Smith and Cheetham) - - 57 


AND ORNAMENT. {ArchcBological Association 
/ourftal) - - - - - 73 


TAPESTRY. ( Willemin) - - - 76 


News) - - - - - 78 


xvi List of Illustrations, 





library). {Marriott) - - - 97 


MAYENCE - - - - - I 01 


15. FIGURE OF A POPE {temp. INNOCENT III). {Rock) 108 





SHIRE ------ 147 


CAMBRIDGE - - - - " ^S© 

21. CHRYSOME CHILD. {Haities) - - - 1 72 
2 2. A COPE-CHEST, YORK MINsTER. {ArchcCologLCal 

Associatiofi Journal) - - - - i73 

23. ARMENIAN PRIEST. {Fortcscue) - - -177 

24. MALABAR PRIEST. {Howard) - - - 1 78 

EASTERN CHURCH. {King) - - 179-185 


OF FRANCE. {Quick) - - - - 205 


{Archceologia) - - - - - 216 




THE Study of ecclesiastical history or an- 
tiquities can be pursued from either of 
two Standpoints. We may take into 
account those essentially religious or theological 
elements which distinguish this subject from all 
other branches of antiquarian science, and keep 
them prominently before us during our investiga- 
tions ; or else, disregarding those elements more or 
less completely, we may consider the subject wholly 
from the point of view of the antiquary. 

As a general rule, those investigators who lay 
stress on the ecclesiastical rather than on the 
antiquarian side of ecclesiology and its various 
subdivisions have been attracted to the study not 
so much by the intrinsic interest which, in some 


Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

degree, every branch of archaeology possesses, as 
by the wish to settle controversial questions relating 
to Church doctrine, usage, or discipline. This is 
especially true of the important section of eccle- 
siology with which these pages are concerned. 
There are two schools into which the students of 
Church vestments may be divided — the ritualistic 
and the antiquarian. Each strives to attain full 
knowledge of the subject, and the means employed 
by both schools are the same — the evidence drawn 
from a patient comparison of the works of authors 
and artists of successive periods. But while those 
of the purely antiquarian school regard the know- 
ledge thus gained as in itself the chief end of their 
researches, those of the other consider it rather as 
a stepping-stone, leading to proofs of the Divine 
appointment of the use of vestments, and in- 
dicating regulations to govern the usage of vest- 
ments in the modern Church. 

It is not surprising that the results of the in- 
vestigations of two schools, having aims so diverse 
in view, should be mutually incompatible. Accord- 
ing to the views of some members of the ritualistic 
school, the vestments of the Christian Church were 
modelled directly upon the vestments of the Jewish 
priesthood ; and as minute instructions for the 
shapes and usage of the latter were laid down in 
the divinely-revealed laws of Moses, they thus 
claim an at least indirect Divine appointment for 

The Genesis of Ecclesiastical Vestments. 3 

the Christian vestments. The antiquarian party, 
on the other hand, are unanimous in holding that 
the vestments of the Christian Church were evolved, 
by a natural process, from the ordinary costume of 
a Roman citizen of the first or second century of 
our era. 

The consideration of these two theories must 
first occupy our attention. Neither is absolutely 
correct ; for, although the balance of probability 
is enormously in favour of the second view, yet 
this theory, in the form in which it is often 
stated, does not cover certain changes which 
were made in the textures, outlines, and number 
of the vestments while the Church was yet com- 
paratively young. These changes were all intro- 
duced to assimilate, as far as possible, the Jewish 
and Christian systems ; and thus it may be said 
that both views contain an element of truth. 

The theory of a Levitical origin is the older ot 
the two ; in fact, it was the first, and for many 
years the only, solution proposed. We shall 
therefore at the outset devote a page or two to 
considering its merits. Very few, even among the 
students of the ritualistic school, now hold it 
absolutely. The weight of argument which can 
be brought to bear against it is so great that it is 
almost universally abandoned as untenable. 

For comparative purposes, it will be necessary 
at this stage to introduce a short descriptive 

Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

catalogue of the vestments of the Levitical priest- 
hood, as prescribed in the Book of Exodus (chap, 
xxviii). Josephus (* Antiquities,' iii 7) is also a 
locus classicus on the subject, and some additional 
particulars from that source are here incorporated : 

I. The Drawers or ' Breeches ' of Linen, 

II. The Tunic of Linen (' coat of fine linen,' 
Exod. xxviii 39). — Josephus tells us that this 
tunic was of fine linen or flax doubled ; that it 
reached to the feet, fitting close to the body, and 
was furnished with tight sleeves. It was girded 
to the breast, a little above the level of the 
elbows, by 

III. The Girdle. — This was a strip of linen 
which, according to Josephus, was four fingers 
broad ; according to Maimonides,* three fingers 
broad and thirty-two cubits long. It was wound 
many times round the body ; the ends were then 
tied over the breast and hung down to the feet, 
except when the priest was engaged in sacrifice or 
other service, in which case he threw it over his 
left shoulder, so that it should not impede him in 
his duty. It was elaborately embroidered with 
flowers, worked in scarlet, purple, and blue 

* Mishneh Torah, VIII, section de vasts sanctuar., 
viii 19, where some other particulars are to be found 
regarding the textures of which the Jewish vestments were 
made, etc. 

The Genesis of Ecclesiastical Vestments, 5 

IV. The Priest's Cap (' bonnet,' Exod. xxviii 
40). — This was an ordinary turban, fastened round 
the head. The description given by Josephus is 

clear and detailed. He 
says : * Upon his head he 
wears a cap, not brought 
to a conic form nor encir- 
cling the whole head, but 
still covering more than 
half of it, which is called 
mesnaemphthes ; and its 
make is such that it 
seemeth to be a crown 
[garland], being made of 
thick swathes, but the 
^ contexture is of linen, 
and it is doubled round 
many times and sewed 
together ; besides which, 
a pieceof fine linencovers 
the cap from the whole 
upper part, and reaches down to the forehead and 
hides the seams of the swathes, which otherwise 
would appear improperly.'* 

* Yirlp Se T?]^ Kecfidkris 4>opd ttIXov aKCOvov, ov ^uKVOvp.evov 
els Tvacrav dvrriv, dXX' ctt' oXlyov, vTrep/SelS-qKOTa ^fiecrrjs ' 
KaXuTcii fxlv fj.€(Tvaefj4e'>]S. rrj Se KaraaKevy TOLodros ^(ttlv 
(1)5 (rT€(/)av7/ SoK€lv, e^ vcfxiorfxaros, Xiveov racvia 7r€770irifM€vr] 
iraxda, koI yap k-nrTva-crop^vov pdinerai TroXXaKis. e-etra 

Fig. I. — Vestments of the 
Jewish Priesthood. 

Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

These four vestments constituted the complete 
equipment of the ordinary Jewish priest, as pre- 
scribed in the Mosaic law. The high-priest, how- 
ever, added four more, which were as follows : 

V. The Tunic of Blue ('robe of the ephod,' 
Exod. xxviii 31). — This was a long garment 
which, according to some authorities, reached to 
the feet, but according to others to the knees only. 
It was woven in one piece, with an aperture 
through which the head of the wearer was passed ; 
this aperture was guarded by a binding or braid 
to prevent it from tearing. Round the lower hem 
of this garment were hung golden bells and models 
of pomegranates, alternating one with another. 
The meaning of this remarkable ornament is not 
clear, and several explanations have been advanced 
to account for it ; all, however, fanciful, and not 
worth recording here. 

VI . The Ephod ^ which was at once the most 
elaborate and the most important of the Jewish 
vestments, is more fully described than any of the 
rest. The superiority of this vestment over the 
others is due to the part which it, and the breast- 
plate intimately connected with it, played in the 
mysterious revelations by which the children of 
Israel were guided during the period of the 

cnv^uiv avioOiv dvTov iKirepikpyjerai SiyKOvaa fJ-^xpt /xertoTrov, 
T^'jv T€ pa<fii]v T-qs Taivtas kul to drr' avT/Js dirpeTrh KaXvTT- 
Tovcra — Translation from Whiston. 

'The Genesis of Ecclesiastical Vestments. 7 

Theocracy. For us, however, it would be as 
irrelevant as it would be futile to speculate on 
the nature of the revelation, or the instrumentality 
of the ephod in indicating the Divine will to the 
priest. We are here concerned only with the 
ephod as an element in the equipment of the high- 
priest, with its shape, and with such particulars of 
its ritual use as we can find directly stated in the 
different authorities. 

' The ephod,' says Josephus, was * woven to the 
depth of a cubit, of several colours [gold, blue, 
purple, and scarlet are enumerated in Exodus] ; 
it was made with sleeves also ; nor did it appear 
to be at all differently made from a short coat.'* 
The vestment seems to have consisted of two 
pieces, a front and a back, which were buttoned 
together by two onyx stones, one on each shoulder, 
set in bezils or ' ouches,' and engraved with the 
names of the twelve tribes, six on one, six on the 
other. Round the waist was passed a girdle, which 
was an essential part of the vestment — indeed, 
Josephus tells us that the girdle and the ephod 
were sewn together. This girdle, which was made 
of materials similar to those which constituted the 
ephod, seems to have been embroidered elaborately 
with coloured threads. 

■* Y<^av^ei5 €7rt (3ddos 7r7])(yaLOV eK re \pu)fxaTix)U TravTOiwv 
Kal ■)(^pva-ov a-viximroLKiXixkvov , . . . xeipLcn re rjcTKrifxevos, kol 
no Travrl a-^rjixari \LT(d)V dvai TTiTroL-qjikvos. 

8 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

The ritual uses of the ephod, even apart from 
its supernatural associations, are obscure. It is 
distinctly implied both in Exodus and by Josephus 
that the vestment was intended for the use of the 
high-priest alone ; yet we find allusions scattered 
through the early historical books of the Old 
Testament which clearly indicate that it was worn 
by others as well. Thus, we read in i Sam. xxii 1 8 
that Doeg, commanded by Saul to fall on the 
priests who had assisted David, * slew . . . four- 
score and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.' 
Again, Samuel, when a child in the service of the 
priests, ' ministered before the Lord . . . girded 
with a linen ephod' (i Sam. ii i8). Further, we 
read that King David himself, when he escorted 
the ark from the house of Obed-Edom to Jerusalem, 
was ' girded with a linen ephod.' In these three 
passages we read of an ephod being worn by the 
minor priest, the acolyte, and the layman, for none 
of whom it was originally intended. The most 
probable explanation seems to be that the ephod, 
originally intended as a vestment for the high-priest 
alone, was gradually assumed, probably in a less 
elaborate form, by the minor priests as well — when 
or how we cannot say. This explanation assumes 
that the regulation was originally laid down as it 
stands in Exodus; but it is possible that the more 
stringent restrictions may not be earlier than the 
recension of Ezra. 

The Genesis of Ecclesiastical Vestments. 9 

We learn from the incidents of Gideon (Judg. 
viii 27) and of Micah (Judg. xvii 5 ; xviii 14 
et seq.) that the ephod, or, rather, copies of it, 
early became objects of superstitious veneration. 
In the two latter passages quoted, as well as in 
Hos. V 4, the vestment is coupled with the 
teraphim or penates, to the worship of which the 
Israelites showed marked inclination at different 
periods of their history. It may be noticed in 
passing that Ephod, which signifies 'giver of 
oracles,' is used as a personal name (Num. 
xxxiv 23). 

VII. The Breastplate of the Ephod. — This was 
a rectangular piece of cloth of the same material 
as the ephod. That it might the better hold the 
precious stones with which it was set, it was 
doubled, its shape when so treated being that of a 
perfect square, with a side of about nine inches 
long. The stones were twelve in number, and 
fixed in settings of gold, being arranged in four 
rows of three each. On each stone was engraved 
the name of one of the twelve tribes. 

This breastplate was secured by two plaited or 
twisted chains of gold, fastened at the one end to 
the bezils of the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, at 
the other to rings of gold in the upper corners 
of the breastplate, and by two blue cords secured 
to rings of gold in the lower corners of the breast- 
plate and in the sides of the ephod above the 

lo Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

embroidered girdle. Josephus asserts that there 
was an aperture in the ephod immediately under 
the breastplate. For this statement there is no 
Scriptural authority ; but it is possible that it is 
the record of a modification in the details of the 
vestment naturally evolved and established at some 
time subsequent to the institution of the vestment 

VIII. The Mitre. — This did not differ in 
essence from the head-dress of the priests except 
in one important respect — the addition of a gold 
plate, set on a lace of blue, and bearing the 
inscription, ' Holy to Jehovah.' Josephus does 
not mention this plate, but describes the mitre as 
a kind of triple tiara, surmounted by a flower- 
shaped cup of gold, and covering the turban 
proper."^ This, however, is quite at variance with 
the original laws on the subject. 

In one respect these vestments are similar to 
those which it will be our duty to describe in the 
following pages. Although there is no injunction 
on the subject in the Law, the Talmud states 
clearly that ' he who wears the vestments of the 
priests outside the temple does a thing forbidden.' 

* *Y7re/) avTov Se crvveppaixix^vos erepo'S e^ vaKivOov tt^ttol- 
KiXfJiiVos, 7r€pup\€Tai 8k crT€(f)avo<s xpvcreo'i IttI t pi(TTOi\iav 
KexaXK€Vjxhos. OdXXei S' ctt' avno kolXv^, xP^'^^^"^ '^V 
aaKxdpti) (SoTavY) irap rjjjLiv Xeyofxevrj a7ro/x€yui/x7^/x€vos, vo<i Se 
Kva/xov ^FiXXrjviov. 

T^he Genesis of Ecclesiastical Vestments. 1 1 

It is admitted by almost all students that the 
vestments during the first six or eight centuries of 
the Christian era were of much greater simpHcity 
than those of later times. The evidence of con- 
temporary art is overwhelmingly opposed to any 
other view. This fact being admitted, we need 
not be surprised by finding that until the eighth 
or ninth century no attempt was made to trace 
any connection between the elaborate vestments 
which we have just described, and the vestments 
worn by those who ministered in the offices of 
Christian worship. 

It is true that until the time we have mentioned 
Churchmen did not greatly trouble themselves 
with investigations into the history of the religion 
they professed or the ritual they performed. But 
it is also true that several authors before this date 
enumerate the Jewish vestments, and enter at length 
into the figurative meanings which they were alleged 
to bear ; but not one of these refers to any supposed 
genealogical connection — if the expression be per- 
missible — between the two systems. This would 
be inexplicable if the Christian vestments were 
actually derived from the Jewish ; for not only 
would the resemblance between the two be obvious, 
but the tradition of the assumption by Christian 
clerics of the vestments originally instituted for 
the Jewish priesthood would still be fresh in the 
minds of the authors. Yet not only do these 

12 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

writers not point out any resemblance between 
the two : they even make use of words and phrases 
which point to considerable differences between the 
outward appearance of Jewish and Christian vesture. 
Apart from these considerations, may we not 
ask with reason how the early Christians, a poor 
and persecuted sect, could possibly assume and 
maintain an elaborate and expensive system of 
vestments such as the Jewish? And if the as- 
sumption had been made after the days of per- 
secution were past, surely some record of the 
transaction would have been preserved till our own 
day ? We possess a tolerably full series of the 
acts and transactions of ecclesiastical courts in all 
parts of the known world from the earliest times — 
how is it that all record of such an important 
proceeding has perished ? 

The first hint of the idea of the Mosaic origin 
of the Christian vestments is given by Rabanus 
Maurus, Archbishop of Mainz, in his treatise ' De 
Institutione Clericorum,'* written about the year 
850. In the first book of this tract he discusses 
each Christian vestment in turn, endeavouring to 
find parallels to some of them among the vestments 
of the Jewish priesthood, but without much success. 
The seed thus sown, however, rapidly bore fruit 
among subsequent writers, who expanded the 
theory with great elaboration. 
'^' I, cap. xiv et seq. (Migne, ' Patrologia,' vol. cvii, col. 306). 

The Genesis of Ecclesiastical Vestments, 1 3 

Many of the identifications brought forward by 
some of the late writers are very far-fetched, and 
mutually contradictory. To these but little weight 
can be attributed. It is a significant fact that 
none of the writers who endeavour to find parallels 
between the two systems can discover an equivalent 
among the Jewish vestments for the chasuble. 
Now, if for each of the Christian vestments there 
existed a corresponding vestment among those of 
the Jews, it would be singular that the most 
important of the former should be unrepresented 
among the latter. The maniple, too, has no 
equivalent (this, however, is more intelligible, since 
that ornament was certainly a later introduction) ; 
while the amice is the only vestment that even the 
most ingenious can produce to represent the ephod, 
though the similarity between the two is of the 

There is another important point which the 
advocates of a Mosaic origin for Christian vest- 
ments overlook. The early Christians certainly 
did borrow many details of their worship from the 
Jews who lived around them, and from whose 
religion many of them had been converted ; but 
these details were taken not from the antiquated 
ritual of the temple worship, but from the syna- 
gogue worship, to which they had been accustomed. 
Now, the vestments which we have described above 
were appointed for the tabernacle worship and the 


Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

temple worship, its direct successor, whereas no 
vestments were at any time or by any authority 
appointed for use in the synagogue worship f and 
hence the Christian vesture cannot be said to * come 
directly ' from the Jewish. 

We have discussed the theory of a Levitical 
origin on purely a priori grounds, making only 
the slightest allusion to the vestments themselves 
as we find them in primitive times. In considering 
the second view, to which it is now time to turn, 
we shall adopt a different course. We shall first 
collect the main facts which can be discovered 
or deduced respecting vestments in the earliest 
centuries of Christianity, from the beginning till 
the rupture of the East and the West, and then 
discuss in detail the vestments as we find them in 
the succeeding period, which in all ecclesiastical 
matters was a period of transition, comparing each 
in turn with its hypothetical prototype among the 
civil costume of the Romans. The remainder of 
the present and the whole of the succeeding chapter 
will be devoted to this investigation. 

The materials available for an inquiry into the 
vestment usage of the early Church are twofold : 
the incidental statements of contemporary authors, 
and the more direct information obtained from a 

* Such a vestment as the talith is not here considered, for 
this is worn by all the worshippers alike, as well as hj the 
officiating minister. 

^Khe Genesis of Ecclesiastical Vestments. 1 5 

study of contemporary paintings and sculpture. 
We shall now discuss the results which follow 
from an examination of these sources. 

The references in the earliest writers — even 
including those which have a very indirect bearing 
on the subject — are extremely few in number ; 
and all passages which can possibly throw any 
light on the question have been eagerly sought 
out and called into evidence to support one theory 
or another. The two best-known passages are the 
statement of St Jerome : * Holy worship hath one 
habiit in the ministry, another in general use and 
common life ' ;* and the yet more famous passage 
in the liturgy of St Clement, in which a rubric 
directs the priest to begin the service * girded with 
a shining vesture.'j" The phrase Xa^Trpai^ eaOioTa 
/iierev^vQ has been translated * being girded with 
his " splendid " vestment,' a translation which the 
Greek cannot possibly bear ; and this passage, 
coupled with the excerpt from Jerome just quoted, 
have been brought forward to testify that gorgeous 
vestments were in use even at the early times when 
thos;e documents from which they have been ex- 
tracted were written. 

"'•' Hieron. In Ezek., cap. xliv. * Religio divina alterum 
habitum habet in ministerio alterum in usu vitaque communi.' 

t Et'^a/xei/09 ovv KaO^ eavrov 6 dpxt^^p^vs a/xa rots UpevaLV 
Kal \afM77pav i(Tdy]Ta fierevSvs Kal crras Trpbs T(^ dvcnacrTrjpLOi 
TO TooiraLOv rod crravpov Kara tov parioTTOv tov X^tpl Troirja-d- 

fl€VO<i; ClTTaTO) K,T.\. 

1 6 Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

Mr. Marriott has carefully examined and gom- 
mented on these and the other passages cited as 
authorities. He proves that the first passage given 
above is used in a context which shows that 
Jerome, though possibly he may have had Christian 
usage in his mind, was thinking primarily of Jewish 
usage ; the second (which not improbably is an 
interpolation) does not specify a * splendid ' vesture, 
but a ' white ' or ' shining ' garment. 

Mr. Marriott's inference from these and similar 
passages is ' that white was the colour appropriated 
in primitive times [i.e., in the first four centuries] 
to the dress of the Christian ministry.' Though 
this view is preferable to the theory that the 
primitive vestments were of the same elaborate 
description as their mediaeval successors, yet it does 
not altogether commend itself as following naturally 
from the authorities cited. It will be necessai y to 
review these passages, for, as we shall endeavour 
to show, they are quite consistent with the third 
alternative : that no distinctive vestments were set 
apart for the exclusive use of the Christian minister 
during the first four centuries of the Christian era. 

The third passage is also from Jerome. In 
another part of the same commentary as the last 
he writes : ' From all these things we learn that 
we ought not enter the Holy of Holies clad in our 
everyday garments and in whatever clothes we 
will, defiled as they are by the usage of common 

77?^ Genesis of Ecclesiastical Vestments, ly 

life ; but with pure conscience and in pure garments 
we ought to hold the sacraments of the Lord.'* 

The fourth passage is from Jerome's letter 
against the Pelagians, in which occur these re- 
markable words : * You say, further, that gor- 
geousness of apparel or ornament is offensive to 
God. But, I ask, suppose I should wear a comelier 
tunic, wherein would it offend God ? or if bishop, 
priest, deacon, and the rest of the church officers 
were to come forward dressed in white V'\ 

Only one other passage remains. This is the 
account of the charge preferred against Cyril, 
Bishop of Jerusalem, before the Emperor Con- 
stantius. It is narrated in Theodoret (Eccl. 
Hist., ii 27), and, not being worth quoting at 
length, may be briefly stated thus : Constantine 
had sent to Macarius, the then bishop, a sacred 
robe — Uciav aroXw — made of threads of gold, to be 
worn when administering baptism ; Cyril had sold 
this robe to a stage-dancer, who wore it during a 

* ' Per quae discimus non quotldianis et quibuslibet pro 
usu vitae communis pollutis vestibus nos ingredi debere in 
sancta sanctorum sed munda conscientia et mundis vestibus 
tcnere Domini sacramenta.' — Hieron. in Ezek., cap. xliv. 

f 'Adjungis gloriam vestium et ornamentorum Deo esse 
contraiiam. Quae sunt rogo inimicitiae contra Deum si 
tunicam habuero mundiorem ? si episcopus presbyter et 
diaconus et reliquus ordo ecclesiasticus in administratione 
sacrificiorum Candida veste processerint ?' — Hieron., Adv. 
Pelagianos, lib, i, cap. 9. 


1 8 Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

public exhibition. It was further stated that the 
stage-dancer had fallen while dancing and been 
fatally injured. 

As the reader will see, these passages give but 
few data for deductions as to the vestment-usage 
in the early Church. There is no indication, for 
instance, in the passage from Theodoret of what 
sort the sacred robe in question was : it may just 
as well have been a splendid garment originally 
from some temple or other. The fact that the 
early Greek ecclesiastical writers do not use the 
word GToXi] to denote a sacred vestment further 
weakens the force of this anecdote as an argument. 
Only Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (early 
seventh century), supplies another instance, where 
he says : i] aroXri tov lepetjQ . . . Kara rov no^rj^r] 
AapCjv ; and this latter passage can be explained 
away, as 0-70X77 refers here to Jewish vesture, in 
which connection it is also employed by the 

On a careful and unbiased reading of these 
passages, it will be noticed that nothing is said 
which can be construed into denoting garments of 
a special prescribed shape, and that their colour is 
only specified by such indefinite words as Xafnrpoq 
and Candidas. 

It is also important to notice that although in 
the first and third of the passages cited from 
Jerome a more special mention is made of the 

The Genesis of Ecclesiastical Vestments, 1 9 

dress of the clergy, yet it is not straining the 
meaning of either of them to regard them as 
applying equally well to the dress of the lay 
worshippers. This, of course, would preclude the 
supposition that they deal with any special ritual 
observance. The second of these quotations, if 
translated into homely nineteenth-century language, 
resolves itself into a simple but strong injunction 
to all worshippers (not the minister only) to wear 
their Sunday clothes. Mr Marriott lays great 
stress on the passage in the letter against Pelagius ; 
its testimony is one of the strongest arguments 
which he can bring forward to support his thesis, 
that it was specially appointed, in the primitive 
church, that white vestments (something like the 
modern surplice) should be worn by the minister. 
But Jerome does not say, * Is God displeased 
because the officers of the church dressed Candida 
veste ?' but ' would God be displeased if they 
were so vested.^' The entire passage is hypo- 
thetical ; and nothing is more clear than that 
Jerome was not contemplating any hard and fast 

We may dismiss the passage from the Clemen- 
tine Liturgy with very few words. Aa^irpog^ 
which the ritualists translate ' splendid,' in classical 
Greek always means ' bright, brilliant, radiant,'* and 

* See Liddell and Scott, Greek Lexicon, edit, maj., sub 

20 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

is applied in Homer to the sun and stars. It is also 
applied, in the sense of ' bright,' to white clothes ; 
indeed, we find in Polybius^ {flor, circa 150 B.C.) 
this very phrase, Xajnirpa kaQiK, equivalent to the 
Roman /^^<^ Candida. Other meanings are *limpid' 
(of water), ' sonorous ' (of the voice), ' fresh, 
vigorous ' (of action), * manifest,' ' illustrious,' 
'munificent,' * joyous,' 'splendid' (generally, in 
outward appearance, health, dress, language, etc.); 
but it never wears the definite meaning which we 
should expect were the word intended to be 
applied to a definite vesture. The Xa^iTrpa kM^q 
of the Clementine Liturgy is, in short, a bright, 
clean robe, but no more an article of an ex- 
clusively ecclesiastical nature than is the ' fair 
white linen cloth ' with which the rubric of the 
Anglican Communion Service directs the altar to 
be covered. 

Another passage, somewhat later in date, may be 
cited as a type of a large class of passages very apt 
to mislead too credulous students. It is the 
Gaulish description of St Berignus cited by Lipo- 
manus (de Vitis Sancton, Ed. Surius, Venice, 
1 58 1, vol. vi, p. 4), ' Vidi quendam hominem 
peregrinum, capite tonso, cujus habitus differt ab 
habitu nostro, vitaque eius nostrae dissimilis est.' 
The context, however, makes it plain that secular, 
not religious, dress is intended. 

* Polyb., 10, 5, I. 

The Genesis of Ecclesiastical Vestments. 21 

And when we refer to the few early frescoes 
and mosaics which have come down to us from 
the primitive epoch, we find ecclesiastics, apostles, 
and Our Lord Himself, represented as habited in 
the tunic and toga or pallium of Roman everyday 

We gather, therefore, from these scattered shreds 
of evidence that, during the first centuries of the 
Christian church, no vestments were definitely 
set apart for the exclusive use of the clergy 
who officiated at Divine service : that clergy and 
people wore the same style of vesture both in 
church and out, subject only to the accidental dis- 
tinctions of quality and cleanliness. 

Fashion in dress or ornament is subject to 
constant changes which, though perhaps individu- 
ally trifling, in time amount to complete revolu- 
tions ; but the devotees of any religion, true or 
false, are by nature conservative of its doctrines 
or observances. Combined with the conclusions 
at which we have just arrived, these two universally 
recognised statements yield us presumptive evidence 
of the truth of the theory which views the Roman 
civil dress as the true progenitor of mediaeval 
ecclesiastical costume. We have seen that at 
first the worshippers wore the same costume 
both at worship and at home. Fashion would 
slowly change unchecked from year to year, 
while ecclesiastical conservatism would retard 

22 Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

such changes so far as they concerned the dress 
worn at Divine service : small differences would 
spring into existence between everyday dress 
and the dress of the worshipper, and these differ- 
ences, at first hardly perceptible, would increase 
as the process went on, till the two styles of 
costume became sharply distinguished from one 

Parallel cases are not wanting to show that this 
is not altogether mere random theorizing. For 
example, the ministers of the Reformed Church of 
Holland maintained, till comparatively recently, a 
picturesque fashion of dress over a century old, 
which they wore only when conducting Divine 
service.^ Perhaps, however, the objection may 
be urged against this view of the case, that if the 
process were such as we have described, it should 
apply as weJl to the worshippers as to the minister : 
that they, as well as he, should wear service-robes. 
It is possible that this would actually have been 
the case had the church services maintained their 
most primitive form, as St Paul describes it in the 
First Epistle to the Corinthians : ' When ye come 
together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a 
doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath 
an interpretation ' ; f that is, had all the wor- 
shippers maintained an equally prominent position 

* See Chapter VI. 
t I Cor. xiv 26. 

T^he Genesis of Ecclesiastical Vestments. 23 

instead of selecting one of their number to con- 
duct their services. At it was, the outstanding 
position of the minister rendered his equipment 
especially liable to such stereotyping as we have 

In the following chapter we shall submit the 
truth of this theory to a test. If the genesis of 
ecclesiastical vestments actually took place in some 
such manner as this, then the vestments as we 
find them described in the earliest writers ought to 
bear conspicuous points of resemblance to the civil 
costume of the Roman people during the first three 
Christian centuries. We shall now inquire whether 
this be so. 



THE last chapter has carried us down to 
the end of the fourth century a. d. For 
some time back the Roman Empire had 
been showing signs of disintegration. Already 
the three sons of Constantine had divided the 
imperial power among themselves ; but the rule 
thus severed had again been united in the person 
of Constantius. In 395, however, the emperor 
Theodosius died, and left the empire of the world 
to be parted between his two sons, Arcadius and 

It would be outside our scope to enter into the 
details of the far-reaching consequences of this 
great event. For our present purpose it is suf- 
ficient to state that, with the empire in which it 
had been born and nurtured, the church was 
divided into two parts, which were thenceforth to 

Early Development of Vestments, 25 

develop independently, now in parallel, now in 
widely divergent lines. 

It will be convenient to regard the first chapter 
as dealing with the period between the institution 
of Christianity and the partition of the Roman 
Empire ; and in the present chapter to discuss the 
interval between the latter event and the accession 
of Charles the Great. We thereby divide the 
history into two epochs of approximately four 
centuries each, with characteristics sufficiently well 
marked to distinguish one from the other. 
Following Marriott, we shall name the first the 
primitive, the second the transitional period. We 
have seen that there is no evidence that vestments 
of any definite form were prescribed for use during 
the former epoch ; we shall see in the present 
chapter how vestment-usage rapidly developed in 
the churches of the West till it culminated in the 
gorgeous enrichment of medieval times. 

Although the difi-erences between the vestments 
of the Western and the Eastern churches consist 
largely in matters of detail, they are sufficiently 
conspicuous, and their histories are sufficiently 
divergent, to render their independent treatment 
advisable. We shall therefore postpone the dis- 
cussion of the latter till we have investigated the 
evolution and subsequent elaboration of the 

The empire to which Honorius succeeded con- 

26 Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

sisted of Italy, Spain, Gaul, and Britain. Although 
the evidence which is extant does not permit us to 
trace completely the history of vestments through- 
out this period, yet from scattered documents we 
are able to see that for the most part the develop- 
ment of ecclesiastical costume proceeded on the 
same lines throughout this vast area. 

Ritual in matters of dress had rapidly been 
growing. Pope Celestine, who occupied the Roman 
See from 423 till 432, found it necessary to write 
a sharp letter to the Bishops of Vienne and Nar- 
bonne for * devoting themselves rather to super- 
stitious observances in dress than to purity of 
heart and faith.' Certain monks, it appears, had 
attained to episcopal rank, but had retained their 
ascetic costume. Some of Celestine's sentences are 
very striking in this connection ; and although 
they refer primarily to out-door costume, we 
cannot but think that, in a later age, when the 
regulations governing the ritual uses of vestments 
had been formulated, and the vestments themselves 
had been elaborated to their ultimate form, the 
force of his words would have been somewhat 
modified. 'By dressing in a cloak [pallium'],' he 
says, * and by girding themselves with a girdle, 
they think to fulfil the truth of Scripture, not in 
the spirit, but in the letter. For if these precepts 
were given to the end that they should be obeyed 
in this wise, why do they not likewise that which 

T^he Early Develop?nent of Vestments. 27 

follows, and carry burning lights in their hands 
as well as their pastoral staves ? We should be 
distinguished from the common people, or from 
all others, by our learning, not by our dress ; by 
our habit of life, not by our clothing ; by the 
purity of our minds, not by the cut of our 
garments. For if we begin to introduce novelties, 
we shall trample under foot the usage which our 
fathers have handed down to us, and give place to 
vain superstitions/ 

The fullest information on the subject of vest- 
ments during this period comes from Spain, in the 
oft-quoted acts of the fourth council of Toledo, 
which sat under the presidency of St Isidore of 
Seville in the year G^Z- Of the canons which 
were drawn up at this council that which is of the 
highest importance in this inquiry is the twenty- 
eighth, although it is not directly connected with 
vestment-usage. It provides for the case of a 
cleric who had been unjustly degraded from his 
order, and ordains that such a one, if he be found 
innocent in a subsequent synod, ' cannot be rein- 
stated in his former position unless he regain his 
lost dignities before the altar, at the hands of a 
bishop. If he be a bishop, he must receive the 
ovarium,^ ring, and staff; if a priest, the orarium 

* Throughout this chapter I have retained the Latin 
words orariu7n, planeta and alba in preference to the English 
translations 'stole,' 'chasuble,' and 'alb,' when treating of 

28 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

and planeta ; if a deacon, the ovarium and alba ; 
if a subdeacon, the paten and chaHce, and similarly 
for the other orders — they must receive, on their 
restoration, whatever they received on their ordi- 

On the principle which is all but universal, that 
the clergy of the higher orders added the insignia 
of the lower orders to those of their own, we are 
enabled by the help of this act to draw up a table 
of the vestments recognised in Spain, which shows 
at a glance the manner in which they were dis- 
tributed among the different orders of clergy : 

^/i?a : worn by all alike. 

Orarium : worn by deacons, priests, and bishops. 

Planeta : worn by priests and bishops. 

Ring and staff : exclusively for bishops. 

Some letters of Gregory the Great (Bishop of 
Rome 590-604) give us particulars relating to 

the vestments of the early church. The two are not iden- 
tical, and it is convenient to have a short method of distin- 
guishing one from the other. 

* * Episcopus presbyter aut diaconus si a gradu suo iniuste 
delectus in secunda synodo innocens reperiatur non potest 
esse quod fuerat nisi gradus amissos recipiat coram altario de 
manu episcopi ; (si episcopus) orarium annulum et baculum ; 
si presbyter orarium ct planetam ; si diaconus orarium et 
albam ; si subdiaconus patenam et calicem ; sic et reliqui 
gradus ea in reparationem sui recipiant quae cum ordinarentur 
perceperunt.' [The bracketed words have dropped out from 
the MS., but their restoration is certain and necessary.] 

The Early Development of Vestrnents. 29 

three other vestments not in general use through- 
out the church. These are the dalmatica, the 
7nappula, and the pallium. Lastly, an anonymous 
MS. of uncertain date* enumerates the pallium, 
casula, manualia^ vestimentwm, alba, and stola 
as the vestments worn in the Gallican Church. 
It is to be regretted that none of the British 
authors of the period have preserved any record 
of contemporary vestment -usage in this country; 
we have, however, no reason to suppose that it 
differed from that of the Continent. 

Let us now take each of the above vestments in 
order, and collect whatever information is obtain- 
able upon their appearance and history, comparing 
each in turn with its supposed Roman prototype. 

I. The Alba. — This word is the abbreviated 
form of the full name, tunica alba, by which a 
flowing tunic of white linen was denoted. It 
appears that the first use of this word as a 
technical term for a special robe is in a passage 
of Trebellius Pollio (in Claud., xiv, xvii), who 

* This MS. is edited in Martene's Thesaurus Anec- 
dotorum, vol. v, p. 86 et seq., and extracts are made from it 
in Marriott's work, p. 204. The MS. was found in the 
monastery of St Martin at Autun, and is assigned by Mar- 
tene to the sixth century, though on doubtful grounds. 
Marriott is probably correct in referring it to the tenth. 
As the vestments which it describes rather resemble those of 
the final period than of the transitional, we reserve its dis- 
cussion till the following chapter. 

30 Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

speaks of an alha suhserica^ mentioned in a letter 
sent from Valerian to Zosimio, Procurator of Syria, 
about 260-270 A.D. In the 41st canon of the 
fourth council of Carthage {circa 400 a.d.)* we 
meet with the first use of this word in an ecclesi- 
astical connection, in one of the earliest (if not 
the earliest) regulations ever passed to govern the 
ritual usage of vestments. This ordains that the 
deacon shall wear an alha only ^tempore ohla- 
tionis tantum vel lectionis' 

The constant evidence of contemporary pictures 
indicates that the alha was a long, full, and flowing 
vesture. In this respect it differed from the Mosaic 
tunic, on the one hand, and the mediaeval alb on 
the other. Both these vestments fitted closely to 
the body for reasons of convenience, for a flowing 
tunic would obviously hamper the Levitical priest 
in the discharge of his sacrificial duties, and would 
not sit comfortably under the vestments with 
which it was overlaid in mediaeval times. 

Nearly two centuries after the fourth council 
of Carthage we find the first council of Narbonne 
(a.d. 589) enacting that * neither deacon nor sub- 
deacon, nor yet the lector, shall presume to put 
off his alba till after mass is over.'f To this 

* Labbe, Sacrosancta Concilia (1671), vol. ii, col. 1203. 

t * Nee diaconus aut subdiaconus certe vel lector ante- 
quam missa consummetur alba se prassumat exuere.' — Concil. 
Narb., i, Labbe, vol. v, col. 1030 (misprinted 1020). 

The Early Development of Vestments, 3 

canon, which was clearly framed to check some 
tendency to irregularity that had become notice- 
able in the celebration of mass, we are indebted 
for two facts : first, that ritual usage in vestments 
was now firmly established ; and second, that the 
alba was the dress of the minor orders of clergy. 
This latter point is not clearly brought out in the 
Toletan canon already quoted. 

Of the garments worn in everyday life by the 
Roman citizen, the innermost was the tunica talaris, 
or long tunic. This article of dress was white, 
usually of wool ; it was passed over the head and 
reached to the feet, the epithet talaris (' reaching 
to the ankles') being employed to distinguish it, as 
the tunic of ceremony, from the short tunics worn 
when freedom was required for active exertion.'"'^ 
It fitted tolerably closely to the body, though it 
was sufficiently loose to require a girdle to confine 
it. The tunics of senators and equites were dis- 
tinguished by two bands of purple, in the former 
case broad {lati clavi), in the latter narrow {angusti 
clavi), which passed from the sides of the aperture 
for the head down to the lower hem of the 

A comparison of the ecclesiastical tunica alba 
with the civil tunica talaris will bring out some 
remarkable points of resemblance. Both were 

* It was also possible and usual to gird up the tunica talaris 
for this purpose. 

32 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

worn in the same manner, and both reached to the 
feet ; it is true that the ecclesiastical dress was 
slightly fuller than the civil, but this was necessary, 
as room was required underneath the alba for the 
wearer's everyday dress. Further, we find ecclesi- 
astics represented in ancient frescoes wearing albae 
which actually show ornaments disposed like the 
clavi of the tunica talaris. These clavi were early 
employed by the Christians to distinguish, by their 
relative width, the representations of Our Lord from 
those of the Apostles, or to discriminate between 
the figures of ecclesiastics of different orders. 

It is also important to notice that the alba is 
invariably furnished with tight sleeves reaching to 
the wrist. The tunic was originally a sleeveless 
garment ; but with the growth of luxury, a new 
kind provided with sleeves gradually came into 
favour. These two forms of tunic were distin- 
guished by different names : the older or sleeveless 
tunic was called colobium^ a Latinization of the 
Greek name /coXojSioi/ ;* and the latter or sleeved 
tunic was named tunica manicata or tunica dalmatica^ 
from the name of the province to which its inven- 
tion was ascribed. 

In the early days of Rome the use of a tunica 
dalmatica stamped the wearer with the stigma of 
effeminacy and utter want of self-respect. The 

''' Derived from the adjective ko\o/36s, docked, curtailed, in 
reference to the shortened sleeves of the garment. 

T^he Early Development of Vestments. 33 

parents of Cornelius Scipio and of Fabius are said 
to have openly disgraced them in their boyhood, 
as a punishment ad corrigendos mores, by com- 
pelling them to appear in public in this attire. 
The despicable emperors Commodus and Elaga- 
balus offended all persons of good taste by coming 
out before all the people in the same costume : 
the latter impudently calling himself another 
Scipio or Fabius, in reference to the incident just 
related.* This, however, cannot mean that the 
scandal lay in the adoption of the luxurious tunica 
dalmatica in preference to the colohium (for Rome 
in the time of Elagabalus was too deeply steeped 
in luxury and vice to feel shocked at an Emperor 
merely preferring an under-garment with sleeves 
to one without those appendages) ; it rather con- 
sisted in his neglecting to put on his 'pallium, or 
outer dress, over it. In fact, the tunica dalmatica 
must have quite ousted its severer rival in popular 
favour by the time of Elagabalus : for we find that 
in 258, only thirty-six years after the death of that 
emperor, St Cyprian of Carthage wore a tunica 
dalmatica, over which was a hyrrhus, or cloak, 
when led out to martyrdom. f It is absurd to 
suppose that Cyprian, on such a solemn occasion, 

* Lampridius in Commodo, cap. viii ; in Elagab., cap. 

t Acta S Cyp., prop. Jin. (Migne, Patrologia, vol. iii, 
col. 1504). 


34 Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

would have assumed a merely luxurious garment, 
and equally absurd to imagine that he would have 
worn ecclesiastical vestments at the time, as some 
commentators on the passage have held. There 
remains only one other alternative — that the 
tunica dalmatic a was the form of tunic which was 
in regular use at the time, and this seems quite 
the most satisfactory hypothesis. 

The most important mention of the tunica 
dalmatica in connection with ecclesiastical matters 
is in the decree of Sylvester, Bishop of Rome, 
253-257. That prelate ordained 'that deacons 
should use the dalmatica in the church, and that 
their left hands should be covered with a cloth 
of mingled wool and linen.'* Various authors 
supplement this passage ; thus, the anonymous 
author of the tract ' De Divinis Officiis,' formerly 
attributed to Alcuin, tells us that * the use of 
dalmaticae was instituted by Pope Sylvester, for 
previously colohia had been worn.'f 

Much importance has been attached to this 
decree. It is regarded as an additional and in- 
controvertible proof that ecclesiastical vestments 

* * Ut diaconi Dalmatica uterentur in ecclesia et pallio 
linostimo laeva eorum tegeretur.' — Anastasius Bibliothecarius 
de Vit. Pontif., § 35 (S Sylv.) ; Migne, Patrol., vol. cxxvii, 


t ' Usus autem Dalmaticarum a B. Sylvestro Papa insti- 
tutus est: nam antea colobiis utebantur.' — Pseudo-Alcuin 
de Div. Off., cap. xxxix ; Migne, vol. ci, 1243. 

The Early Development of Vestments, 35 

were in use in the primitive church. But on 
examination, however, it will be found no more 
to bear such a construction than St Paul's request 
for his f^aiKovx). The ordinance merely shows that 
Sylvester had a laudable desire to improve the 
aesthetics of public worship, and, with this end 
in view, decreed that thenceforward ecclesiastics 
should all wear the tunica dalmatica — which had 
quite outgrown its early evil reputation, and 
must be admitted to have been a better-lookino- 
garment than the scanty and somewhat undigni- 
fied colobium. It is not at all improbable that 
many of the clergy wore dalmaticae even before 
Sylvester's edict : in this case the edict would 
have the additional advantage of securing uni- 

All attempts to set up the dalmatica as a 
separate vestment in early times fail hopelessly. 
It is unknown to the drafters of the Toletan 
canons, and no early representation of an ecclesiastic 
is extant having two vestments visible under the 
planeta* This would certainly be the case if the 
two were independent vestments. It is true that 
St Isidore of Seville wrote, ' Dalmatica vestis 
primum in Dalmatia provincia Graecia texta est 
sacerdotalis, Candida cum clavis ex purpura ;'t 
(the dalmatica is a priestly vestment first made in 

* This does not apply to the city of Rome. See p. 54. 
t Etymologiae, lib. xix, cap. xxii (Migne, Ixxxii 635). 

36 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

Dalmatia, a province of Greece, white with purple 
clavi) ; but the concluding words show that he 
was merely thinking of the alba under its more 
specific name, dalmatic a, 

A brief recapitulation of this somewhat lengthy 
argument may not be out of place. Two forms 
of tunic may be said to have contended one with 
another for the favour of the Roman people — the 
sleeveless colobium and the sleeved dalmatica. The 
latter ultimately gained the victory ; and the 
decree of Pope Sylvester, commanding all eccle- 
siastics under his authority to assume it in place 
of the former, finally established its use in the 
church. Now, when we find that, two or three 
centuries after Sylvester's time, a vestment was 
worn by ecclesiastics in Divine service identical 
with the tunica dalmatica in almost every respect, 
even to the presence of the clavi^ which (in the 
secular dress) indicated the rank of the wearer, it 
is only natural to regard the one as directly derived 
from the other. 

There is one other point of importance in the 
history of this vestment in the transitional period. 
It was found that such a flowing garment as the 
alba seriously incommoded the priest on some 
occasions, particularly in administering baptism by 
immersion. Accordingly, an alba fitting closely 
to the body was invented for use on such occasions, 
and is represented in certain MS. illuminations, 

T^he Early Development of Vestments, i^j 

particularly a ninth-century pontifical now in the 
St Minerva Library at Rome. The special im- 
portance of this point is due to the fact that this 
baptismal alba was probably the immediate parent 
of the mediaeval alb ; the closer vestment being 
found more convenient on other occasions as well 
as that of baptism, and having gradually become 

Fig. 2.— a Bishop administering Baptism. 

adopted in all the other offices of the Church as 

II. The 07'arium. — Both this vestment and the 
name by which it was known have given much 
trouble to scholars. The following list of the 
various derivations which have been suggested for 
the word orarium (arranged in order of probability) 
is not uninteresting : 

38 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

1. Ora, because used to wipe the face. 

2. Orare, because used in prayer. 

3. wpa, because it indicated the time of the different parts 

of the service. 

4. iopaL^€Lv, because the deacon was beautified with it. 

5. Ora (a coast), because (alleged to have been) originally 

the edging of a lost garment. 

6. 6/)a(o, because the siglt of it indicated whether a priest 

or deacon was ministering (!). 

There can be little doubt that the first is the 
true etymology. The others are all more or less 
fanciful ; and the orarium was certainly employed 
originally as a scarf Ambrose speaks of the face 
of the dead Lazarus being bound with an orarium; 
and Augustine uses the same word to indicate a 
bandage employed to tie up a wounded eye. 

Numerous effigies of late date are extant which 
exhibit a kind of scarf, passing over the left 
shoulder diagonally downwards to the right side, 
and fastened under the right arm. As Albertus 
Rubenius long ago pointed out, these scarves must 
not be confused with the clavi which ornamented 
the tunics of senators and equites ; for they are 
worn over the pallium^ or outer garment, and are 
disposed in a manner quite different from that in 
which the clavi fall. 

What, then, are these scarves } The answer to 
this question is supplied by Flavius Vopiscus in his 
Life of Aurelian, who, he says, ' was the first to 
grant oraria to the Roman people, to be worn as 

'The Early Development of Vestments. 39 

favours/"^ Now, the references which we have 
just made to Ambrose and Augustine — not to 
mention others which might equally well be 
quoted — show that the oraria, whatever may have 
been the method in which they were worn, must 
have been narrow strips of some kind of cloth. 
These peculiar scarves, which are to be seen on 
certain monuments, do not appear on any effigy 
dating before the time of Aurelian ; the natural 
inference, therefore, is that the scarves which we 
see thus represented are actually the oraria^ granted 
to the Roman people by that emperor and his 
successors. If this argument be not valid, then it 
is impossible to say either what these scarves really 
are, or what was the true appearance of the civil 

It is probable that considerable laxity existed in 
the manner of wearing the ecclesiastical orarium, 
for the fourth Council of Toledo thought it 
necessary to enact a special canon to regulate the 
method in which this vestment should be disposed. 
The fortieth act of this assembly restricts the 
number of or aria to one, and enjoins that deacons 
should wear the orarium over the left shoulder, 
leaving the right side free so as to facilitate the 

* 'Sciendum . . . ilium . , . primum donasse oraria populo 
Romano quibus uteretur populus ad favorem.' — Flav. Vop. 
in Aur., 48. 

40 Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

execution of their duties in Divine service.'"* This 
act also provides that the diaconal ovarium should 
be plain, not ornamented with gold or embroidery. 
It will be noticed that this Toletan council 
favoured the derivation of the word or avium from 
or are. 

The wearing of the ov avium was still flirther 
regulated by two of the councils which met at 
Braga. The second council of Braga (563 a.d.) 
decreed that ' since in some churches of this 
province the deacons wear their ovavia hidden 
under the tunic, so that they cannot be distin- 
guished from the subdeacons, for the future they 
must be placed over their shoulders. 'f The fourth 

"* ' Orariis duobus nee episcopo quidem licet nee presby- 
tero uti ; quanto magis diacono qui minister eorum est. 
Unum igitur orarium oportet Levitam gestare in sinistro 
huraero propter quod orat, id est, praedicat ; dextram autem 
partem oportet habere liberam ut expeditus ad ministerium 
sacerdotale discurrat. Caveat igitur amodo gemino uti orario 
sed uno tantum et puro nee ullis eoloribus aut auro ornato.' — 
Aeta Coneil. Tolet. IV, cap. xl. 

This rule does not seem to have been always obeyed. In 
the Pontifical of Landulfus (ninth century) there is a repre- 
sentation of an ecclesiastic wearing two oraria, one over each 
shoulder. This, however, must be regarded as exceptional. 

t * Item placuit ut quia in aliquantis huius provlnciae 
ecclesiis diacones {sic) absconsis infra tunicam utuntur orariis 
ita ut nihil differre a subdiacono videantur de cetero super- 
posito scapulae (sieut decet) utantur orario.' — Acta Coneil. 
Braear. II, cap. ix : Labbe, vol. v, col. 841. The eleventh 

The Early Development of Vestments. 4 1 

council (675 A.D.) made an important decree 
regulating the wearing of the orarium by priests, 
which has been since followed universally. The 
vestment was to be passed round the neck, over 
each shoulder, crossed in front, and secured in this 
position under the girdle of the alba.^ 

The last enactment of importance is that of 
the council of Mayence (813 a.d.), which ordered 
that priests should wear their oraria 'without 

canon ordained ' ut Icctores in ecclcsia in habitu saeculari 
ornati non psallant.' 

■* *Cum antiqua ecclesiastica noverimus institutione prae- 
fixum ut omnis sacerdos cum ordinatur orario utroque humero 
ambiatur ; scilicet ut qui imperturbatus praecipitur consistere 
inter prospera et adversa, virtutum semper ornamento utro- 
bique circumseptus appareat : qua ratione tempore sacrificii 
non assumat, quod se in sacramento accepisse non dubitatur ? 
Proinde modis omnibus convenit ut quod quisque percepit 
in consecratione, hoc et retentet in oblatione, vel perceptione 
sude salutis ; scilicet ut cum sacerdos ad sollennia missarum 
accedit aut pro se Deo sacrificium oblaturus, aut sacramentum 
corporis et sanguinis Domini Nostri Jesu Christi sumpturus, 
non aliter accedat, quam orario utroque humero circum- 
septus, sicut et tempore ordinationis suae dignoscitur consecra- 
turus : ita ut dc uno eodemque orario cervicem pariter et 
utrumque humerum premens, signum in suo pectore prae- 
ferat crucis. Si quis autem aliter egerit excommunication! 
debitae subiacebit.' — Concil. Bracar. IV, cap. iv : Labbe, 
vol. vi, coll. 564, 565. 

f ' Presbyteri sine intermissione utuntur orariis propter 

42 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

The orarium^ then, was a narrow strip of cloth, 
disposed about the persons of the clergy in various 
manners according to their rank. To it corre- 
sponded in name, shape, and method of disposi- 
tion, a garment common among the Romans, 
though admittedly rather an honourable ornament 
than an actual article of clothing. Yet when we 
remember how the clavi were employed to dis- 
tinguish rank among the earlier clergy, this latter 
fact may be regarded as strengthening the evidence 
of identity which the correspondence in all salient 
features affords. Some other theories of its origin 
will be discussed when we have treated of the 

III. The Planeta. — In the earlier and purer 
days of the Roman people, the dress which alone 
was recognised as the proper costume for the 
citizen was the toga. This was one of the most 
inconvenient and cumbrous articles of dress ever 
invented — a great oblong cloth, fifteen feet by ten, 
thrown in a complicated manner over the left 
shoulder, folded in front, and hanging loose about 
the feet. We can hardly feel surprised at finding 
that, when the citizens came to regard comfort 
before appearances to such an extent as to adopt 
sleeved tunics, a more convenient form of this 

difFerentiam sacerdotis dignitatis.' — Concil. Mogunt. cap. 
xxviii : Labbe, vol. vii, col. 1249. 

The Early Development of Vestments. 43 

outdoor costume was adopted. There were three 
varieties of this new* garment, each of which has 
its own name ; these were the paenula, the casula^ 
and the planeta. 

The paenula was a garment which in the early 
days of the Republic was allotted to slaves. A 
slave wearing this dress is introduced into the 
' Mostellaria ' (IV iii 51) of Plautus. Indeed, 
according to Julius Pollux ('Onomasticon,' vii 61), 
the dramatist Rhinthon, who lived in the fourth 
century b.c, introduced a mention of this garment 
into his ' Iphigeneia in Tauris,' a fact which would 
seem to indicate that the dress was much older 
than his own time, as otherwise his audience 
would be unfavourably impressed by the anachron- 
ism. Numerous allusions in classical Latin authors 
show that it was adopted as a travelling dress 
because of its warmth and comparative con- 
venience ^^ but on no account was it worn within 
the walls of the city. Gradually, however, the use 
of the garment spread, till Alexander Severus 
(222-235 A.D.), as Lampridius tells us, permitted 
elders to wear the paenula within the city in cold 

* Or, to speak more accurately, new adaptation of an old 
garment. The paenula, for instance, had long been worn by 
the lower classes, being cheap and warm. 

t Though it was by no means adapted to active exertion. 
See Cicero, pro Milone, capp. x, xx. 

44 Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

weather, though at the same time he forbade 
women to do so except when on a journey.* 

The casula was a poor and inferior variety of 
the paenula^ which, when the latter was promoted 
to be the costume of senators and emperors, suc- 
ceeded it as the garb of the poorer classes. The 
original meaning of the name is * little house ' — 
a diminutive of casa — and there is little evidence 
to guide us as to the exact appearance of the 
garment which it denoted. The name would lead 
us to infer that, like the paeniila, it enveloped the 
entire body ; but it is probable that it was made 
of coarser and cheaper material. The fact that 
it was early adopted as the distinctive dress of 
monks would lead us to this conclusion ; beyond 
this there is no reason for supposing that it differed 
in outline from the paenula. 

Thtplaneta first appears in the fifth century a.d. 
Cassianus (De Habitu Monachorum, i 7) men- 
tions it as a dress whose price prevents its use as 
a monastic habit ; and St Isidore, two centuries 
later, expressly forbids members of religious orders 
to wear it. The planeta must therefore have 
been more costly than the casula^ and, as we find 
it mentioned in the sixth century as the dress of 

■^ * Paenulis intra urbem frigoris causa lit senes uterentur 
permisit, quum id vestimenti genus semper itineranum fuisset 
aut pluviae. Matrones tamen intra urbem paenulis uti vetuit, 
in itinere permisit.' — Lamprid. in Alex. Sev., cap. xxvii. 

T'he Early Development of Vestments. 45 

nobles and of senators, it was probably the most 
expensive of the three. 

The general shape of the garment, as shown in 
Roman paintings or effigies, is that of a cloak 
enveloping the body, sewn in front, and put on 
by being passed over the head, for which a suitable 
aperture was provided. And this shape is identical 
with the outer vestment which we see in early 
representations of clerics. The modification which 
was early adopted, that of making the vestment 
oval in form, so as to lessen the width over the 
shoulders and so to give more freedom to the 
arms, was obviously regulated by convenience. 

Thus we have seen that the three principal 
vestments, as we find them detailed in the earliest 
lists and depicted in the earliest monuments, are 
identical in shape, disposition, and name with the 
Roman civil costume of the second or third 
century of the Christian era. 

Three additional vestments are found enumerated 
in the letters of St Gregory the Great and else- 
where which were not worn universally throughout 
the church, but were either carefully confined to 
the clergy of the city of Rome itself or were in 
the gift, so to speak, of the Pope. These are the 
pallium^ the mappula^ and the dalmatica. 

I. The F allium. — In classical Latin this word 
is used either as the equivalent of toga or in the 
general sense of the English * robe.' It is also 


Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

used in the earlier ecclesiastical writers of the casula^ 
or coarse outer garment of monks, as in the passage 
from Celestine quoted on p. 26. Yet another use 

Fig. 3. — Ecclesiastics from the Mosaics in S Vitale, 
Ravenna (Sixth Century). 

of the word pallium is found in the expression 
pallium linostimum, which denoted a cloth, the use 
of which was ordained to deacons by Pope 

The 'Early Development of Vestments, 47 

Sylvester, as we shall presently see when discussing 
the maniple. 

The pallimn^ when used by ecclesiastical writers 
in its proper and restricted sense, denotes an orna- 
ment specially appropriated to archbishops. Its 
earliest form is shown in the Ravenna mosaics — 
that of a narrow strip of cloth, passed over the 
left shoulder, looped loosely round the neck, and 
then passed over the left shoulder again, so that 
the two ends hang free, one in front, the other 
behind. This method of disposition seems to 
indicate an identity of origin with the ovarium ; 
indeed, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish 
between these vestments in early representations. 
A desire for symmetry, probably, decided the next 
step in its evolution ; this consisted in bringing 
the free end to the middle and knotting it into 
the lowest point of the loop : this we find 
exemplified in monuments of the eighth, ninth, 
or tenth century. From this the transition to the 
form which became universal in later times was 
easy, and the two are found contemporaneously. 
The final form — which will be more fully de- 
scribed in the third chapter — is that of an oval 
loop with a long tail pendent from its ends, so 
that when the ornament is in position it presents 
the appearance of a capital Y on the front and on 
the back. 

The early history of this vestment is involved 

48 Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

in deep obscurity. As already hinted, it is not 
improbably a modification of the ovarium ; but 
there is no evidence, further than general outward 
resemblance, that this is actually the case ; nor is 
there any apparent reason for its appropriation to 
archbishops. The question must remain open till 
further research either reveals the missing links 
in the chain of connection, or elicits some more 
satisfactory solution of the question. 

The idea of Dr Rock, according to which the 
pallium is viewed as ' the true and only representa- 
tion of the Roman toga,' is most unsatisfactory. 
He thinks that the toga, which was folded over 
the left shoulder, under the right arm, over the 
right shoulder, and again over the left shoulder, 
' dwindled down to a mere broad band,' folded 
much the same way ; and that this broad band 
was the early pallium. The evolution here sup- 
posed is, however, most unnatural ; there is not 
time for it to have taken place between the in- 
stitution of Christianity and the date of the 
Ravenna mosaics — much less between the time 
when ecclesiastical vestments and their develop- 
ment began to receive special attention and the 
latter date ; the toga, as we have already seen, 
was itself practically obsolete when Christianity 
began to make itself felt, and still further removed 
from the current fashion of the time at which 
archbishops began to require distinguishing in- 

The Early Development of Vestments. 49 

signia; and, lastly, the connecting links between 
the blanket at one end and the narrow strip of 
cloth at the other, which Dr Rock adduces and 
figures, are too few in number to be convincing, 
and quite explicable on other grounds, such as the 
unskilfulness of the ancient 
artist — a fruitful source of 
error in archaeological re- 

It is not inconceivable 
that the origin of the 
honourable -pallium is to be 
sought in the honourable 
orariuyn, distributed as 
' favours ' to the Roman 
people ; in which case we 
must seek elsewhere for a 
prototype to the ecclesias- 
tical ovarium, * We should 
then fall back on the old 
idea, which has by no means 
been disproved, that in the 
clavi of the tunica alba is to ^'^'- 4.-Effigy of a Roman 

Citizen in Caerleon 
be found the true original. Museum. 

We reproduce here a figure of an efHgy of a 
Roman citizen at Caerleon, near Newport, which 
certainly seems to warrant this view ; here is to be 
seen a tunica, a clavus, and.'a paenula, all very sug- 


50 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

gestive of the alb, stole, and chasuble of later times. 
Duchesne, in his * Origines du culte chretien,'* 
regards all the orarium-Y\^t vestments which appear 
in contemporary documents as in reality pallia; 
the ovarium proper he does not consider to have 
been introduced till the tenth century. The 
ovarium which appears before this date he regards 
as simply a napkin, or sudarium^ designed to 
protect the alha. He further states that in the 
fourth century the civil law required all officials 
to wear some distinctive badge of office ; that the 
Eastern Church complied with this law throughout, 
assigning the <l)ino(f)opiov, kiriTpayriXiov^ and wpapiov 
respectively to bishop, priest, and deacon, while 
the Western Church only complied with it to the 
extent of assigning a pallium to the bishops. We 
confess that this elaborate argument does not appeal 
to us any more than the theory which regards 
the stole as the orphrey of a degenerated vestment ; 
but while professing our own belief in Marriott's 
view, stated above (pp. 38-9), we have given these 
several theories, leaving it to the reader to make 
his own choice. 

From the earliest references to the pallium 
which we can find, it is clear that it was from the 
first regarded as a distinctive vestment to be worn 

* Quoted by the Rev O. J. Reichel in his ' English 
Liturgical Vestments in the Thirteenth Century ' (London, 
Hodges, 1895). 

The Early Development of Vestments. 5 1 

by archbishops only.* The archbishops of this 
early period had not the right, any more than their 
mediaeval successors, of assuming the f allium on 
their consecration ; it was necessary to apply to 
the Pope for a grant of the vestment, which was 
only bestowed on the permission of the reigning 
sovereign being obtained. The earliest document 
unquestionably relating to the bestowal of the 
f allium is a letter of Pope Symmachus, bestowing 
the pallium on Theodore, Archbishop of Laureacus, 
in Pannonia, 514 A.D.f Instances of the royal 
assent being considered necessary are found in the 
letters of Pope Vigilius, who delayed the grant of 
the f allium to Archbishop Auxanius of Aries for 
two years, -pending the consent of Childebert I, 
King of the Franks ;J and in the letters of Pope 
Gregory the Great, who at the request of Childe- 
bert II bestowed the pallium on Virgilius, a later 
Archbishop of the same province.^ 

In 866 Pope Nicholas I declared that no arch- 
bishop might be enthroned or might consecrate the 
Eucharist till he should receive the pallium at the 
hands of the Pope.|| 

* Some exceptions to this rule will be noticed in the next 

t Symmachi Ep. xii in ' Patrologia,' Ixii 72. 

X Vigilii Epp. vi, vii in ' Patrologia,' Ixix 26, 27. 

§ Gregorii Ep. v 53 ; * Patrologia,' Ixvii 783. 

II ' . . . . sane interim in throno non sedentem et praeter 
corpus Christi non consecrantem priusquam pallium a sede 


Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

II. The Mappilii. — We have seen in discussing 
the j//'j that Pope Sylvester, in the middle of the 
third century, decreed that the deacons of the 
city of Rome should substitute dalmaticae for 
colobia ; he further charged them to wear a 
gallium Unostimum on their hands. It is clear 
that this cloth, as its proper name, mappiiki (little 
napkin), demonstrates, was designed to serve the 
utilitarian purpose of a handkerchief, either to 
wipe the Communion vessels or the face of the 
minister — probably the latter.* This cloth, 
however, must early have become regarded as 
a sacred vestment by its wearers, and the ex- 
clusive privilecre of the Roman priests to wear 
it was jealously guarded. Attempts were made 
bv the deacons of the neighbouring churches of 
Ravenna to assume the vestment, and St Gregory 
found it necessary to interfere, w^hich he did in 

Romana percipiar, sicuti Galliarum omnes et Germaniae et 
aliarum regionum Archiepiscopi agere comprobantur.' — 
Nich. Papae I, Responsa ad consulta Bulgar., cap. Ixxiii, 
ad fin. : Labbe, vol. viii, col. 542. 

* The notion prevalent nowadays, that the mappula was 
exclusively intended to cleanse the sacred vessels, is thus 
bluntly negatived by St- Ivo of Chartres : ' Unde in sinistra 
manu ponitur quaedam mappula quae saepe fluentem oculorum 
pituitam tergat et oculorum lippitridinem removeat,' And 
Amalarius of Metz testifies to the same effect : ' Sudarium 
ad hoc portamus ut eo detergamus sudorem qui fit ex labore 
proprii corporis.' 

The Fjarly Dei:elopment :^/>. 


several letters to that somewhat recalcitant prelate, 
John, the Bishop of Ravenna. For the sake of 
peace, Gregory admitted a compromise whereby 
the principal deacons of Ravenna were allowed 
to wear the coveted ornament ; but the glamour 
of carrying a vestment, however inconvenient,* 
which was theoretically confined to the holy city 
itself, proved too strong a temptation for the 
deacons of other places, while the Romans (whose 
exclusive privilege was gone once Ravenna was 
admitted to a share in it) took no further steps 
to prevent its assumption. As a natural conse- 
quence, the use of the vestment spread over the 
whole of the Western Church, and by the time 
when the period at present engaging our attention 
ended, had become universal. 

III. The 'Dalmatica. — We have already entered 
at length into the history of this word and of the 
vestment to which it was applied. It does not 
seem to have differed essentially from the alha ; 
but it appears that twoj vestments were worn at 
Rome, an all?a and a dalmatica, though it is 
evident from the Toletan canons and other sources 
that at this early period such was not the case 
elsewhere. In early pictures the two vestments 

* The modifications which the discomfort of this little 
vestment necessitated will be described in the next chapter. 

t Civil dress presented parallel cases : the Emperor 
Augustus wore four tunics in cold weather. 

54 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

are rarely represented side by side ; it is probable 
that the dalmatica was so long as to conceal the 
alba^ just as the dalmatic on mediaeval effigies of 
Bishops often hides the tunicle. It seems, how- 
ever, to have been shown on the ancient picture of 
Gregory the Great, described by Joannes Dia- 
conus ; and we find that Gregory granted its use 
to Bishop Aregius of Gap and to his Archdeacon 
(Ep. ix 107 : Migne, Ixxvii 1033), forwarding 
the vestments at the same time as the letter. 
Clearly the Pope does not denote the alha by the 
word dalmatica^ as we have seen St Isidore of 
Seville do, for Aregius would naturally wear an 
alba without papal interference. The vestment 
in question must, therefore, have been another, 
resembling the alb in outline, but only worn either 
at Rome or by those on whom the Pope saw fit to 
confer it. 

The history of the spread of the dalmatica must 
have been similar to that of the mappula. By the 
time the third period begins we find it established 
as an independent vestment, difi^ering from its 
parent, the alba, in one important respect, which 
will be detailed in the following chapter. 

Although not vestments in the strictest sense of 
the word, we must not conclude this chapter with- 
out a brief notice of the two exclusively episcopal 
insignia noticed in the canons of the fourth council 
of Toledo, namely, the ring and staff. Rings have 

I'he Early Development of Vestments, ^^ 

been found in the tombs of bishops of the third 
century. This, however, proves nothing, as their 
use was universal among both Christians and 
heathen. Nor can anything definitely ecclesiastical 
be tortured out of the many descriptive notices 
which have come down to us of the rings in the 
possession of individual bishops of the third, 
fourth, and fifth centuries. Isidore of Seville 
{circa 600) lands us on firmer ground ; he dis- 
tinctly says : ' To the bishop at his consecration 
is given a staff ... a ring likewise is given him 
to signify pontifical honour, or as a seal for secret 
things.'"' We need not, perhaps, discuss the 
esoteric meaning of the gift as here set forth ; but 
the fact clearly remains that by Isidore's time the 
gift of a ring and a staff had become an essential 
part of the ceremony of episcopal ordination. The 
Toletan canon tells us the same thing. Before 
that time there is no clear indication of the gift ; 
it is not mentioned in ordination services of earlier 
date than the sixth century, one of the oldest 
references to it being in the sacramentary of 
Gregory the Great {circa 590 a.d.) ; and even 
this passage is rejected as an interpolation by 

* Huic dum consecratur datur baculus .... datur et 
annulus propter signum pontificalis honoris vel signaculum 
secretorum. — Isidorus de OfF. EccL, lib. ii, cap. v. 

t Ad annulum digito imponendam : Accipe annulum fidei, 

56 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

The Pastoral Staff, — Isidore says, in the passage 
already quoted, that the staff is given * that he 
may rule or correct those set under him, or support 
the weakness of the weak.'^ 

It is strange that even the pastoral staff has a 
prototype among the insignia of the heathen 
priesthood. One of the emblems of the Roman 
augurs was a lituus, or crook, resembling almost 
exactly the earliest pastoral staves as we find them 
shown in the monuments of early Christian art. 
It was used inter alia for dividing the sky into 
regions for astrological purposes. The pastoral 
staff, as represented in early monuments, was 
much shorter than the mediaeval crozier ; and it 
seems not at all improbable that the pastoral staff 
was originally a ' Christianization ' of this pagan 

Other writers have argued in favour of the 
pastoral staff being simply an adaptation of the 
common walking-sticks, which were certainly used 
in churches as a support before the introduction of 
seats. It has been pointed out, however, that the 
pastoral staff had become a special member of the 
insignia of a bishop bef3re the general abolition of 
these crutches ; and this, it must be confessed, is 

scilicet signaculum quatenus sponsam Dei, videlicet sanctam 
ecclesiam, intemerata fide ornatus illibate custodias. 

''^ Ut subditam plebem vel regat vel corrigat vel infirmi- 
tatem infirmorum sustineat. 

The Early Development of Vestments. 57 

an argument of considerable force against such a 


' The letter of Celestine to the Bishops of Nar- 
bonne and Vienne, part of which we quoted on 
pp. 26-7, is probably about the earliest available 
reference to the use of the pastoral staff by mem- 
bers of the episcopal order. This brings the 
history of pastoral staves back to the early part of 
the fifth century, and shows that this special orna- 
ment was one of the earliest of the external symbols 
which the church has prescribed for its officers. 

The staff was a rod of wood with a head either 
crutched or crooked, usually of one of the precious 
metals. The name sug- 
gests that the symbolism 
of the shepherd had 
entered largely into the 
ideas connected with it. 
It was carried by abbots 
and abbesses, by bishops, 
and, till about the tenth 
century, by the Pope ; 
but with the rapid growth 
of the temporal sove- 
reignty of the Papacy, the 
emblem purely associated 

with the special idea of spiritual pastorate was 
abandoned. In the old pre-scientific days it used 
to be stated that the Pope at no time carried 

Fig. 5.— Pope Gregory the 
Great with Pastoral Staff. 

58 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

2L pastoral staff, though he did bear a ferula^ or 
straight sceptre — the symbol of rule ;* but this is 
at variance with the evidence of contemporary art. 

We must not leave the subject of the earliest 
form of ecclesiastical vestments without briefly 
noticing the ornamentation with which they were 
decorated. In the oldest representations of 
ecclesiastics which we possess, their vestments were 
represented pure white, ornamented with the 
clavi ; these were generally black, though St 
Isidore refers to purple clavi. But other colours 
appear in very early frescoes and mosaics. These, 
however, are apparently arbitrary, the result of 
the notions of the painter on the subject of the 
artistic combination of colours. Nothing analogous 
to the * liturgical colours ' of late times is trace- 
able in the early or transitional period of the 
history of vestments. 

Some ornamentation other than the clavi is 
found in vestments of late date in the present 
period. Leo III, the date of whose Papal rule 
lies just on the border-line between the transi- 
tional and the mediaeval epoch, presented to the 
Church of St Susanna a vestment with four gam- 

* Romanus autem Pontifex Pastorali virga non utitur — 
Innoc. Ill Papa, De Sacr. Altar. Myst. i 62 (Migne ccxvii, 
795). Ideoque summum Pontificem eiusmodi incurvatam 
virgam non gererc quia eius potestas nullis locorum limitibus 
circumscribitur at ubiquepatet. — De Saussay, Panoplia Cleri- 
corum (Paris 1646), p. 102. 

The Early Development of Vestments. 5 9 

madia — that is, ornaments shaped like crosses 
formed by four gammas placed back to back, thus : 
-• ^ ; we also hear of calliculae, metal or em- 
broidered ornaments, for the alba. A singular 
method of ornamentation is exemplified by 
numerous frescoes and mosaics, and has been a 
fruitful source of perplexity to ecclesiologists. 
This consists in the use of letters (sometimes of 
monograms or letter-like arbitrary signs) on the 
outer hem of the garment. No connection can 
be traced between these letters and any circum- 
stances known concerning the persons whose vest- 
ments they decorate ; and wide differences be- 
tween the times and places of individual examples 
of the same character preclude their explanation as 
the faithful copies of weavers' marks. We can 
only say that their use is inexplicable on such 
practical or esoteric grounds, and that, therefore, 
some simple explanation, such as the arbitrary 
selection of a letter as an elementary ornament, is 
the only satisfactory means of accounting for their 
presence. Even now we daily employ rows of 
0-shaped circles, S-shaped curves, etc., as orna- 
ments, without the slightest reference to the 
sounds which those symbols denote. The tendency 
to exalt simple little contrivances into hidden 
mysteries is ever with us, especially in ecclesiology, 
and it should on all occasions be repressed. 



HITHERTO, to a great extent, we have 
been groping in the dark, guided only 
by the dim light yielded by obscure 
passages in early writers or by half-defaced frescoes 
and shattered sculptures. Much is conjectural, 
much uncertain ; and often the shreds of informa- 
tion obtained from different sources appear con- 
tradictory, requiring patient thought and investi- 
gation to unravel the entanglement and reconcile 
the inconsistencies. 

The progress of Christian literature and art had 
been retarded first by persecution, then by war 
and tumult. This partly accounts for the com- 
parative scantiness of the material extant for a 
history of the Christian antiquities of the first 
eight centuries. But with the ninth century a 
new era began, which lasted unchecked all through 

The Final Form of Vestments. 6 1 

the Middle Ages. The military genius of Charles 
the Great effected a general peace in the year 812; 
and under his enthusiastic patronage a true renais- 
sance took place in learning and in art. Archi- 
tecture and manuscript illumination were carried 
to a high degree of perfection, and for the first 
time active and systematic researches were made 
into the details of the doctrine and ritual of the 
church in the preceding centuries. 

As a natural consequence of the inquiring spirit 
which thus made itself felt, the number of books 
and tracts on ecclesiastical matters multiplied 
enormously. Among the many branches of study 
which were and are open to the inquiry of the 
ecclesiologist, few occupied the attention of these 
ninth-century writers more than the vestments 
worn by the priests when ministering in Divine 

It has been reserved for the antiquaries of our 
own day to formulate the true principles of scien- 
tific archaeology. We smile at the childish fancies 
which are gravely put forward in works not more 
than fifty years old ; small wonder is it, then, that 
we find these early treatises on vestments disap- 
pointing. All are firmly impressed with the 
Levitical origin of the usage and shape of Chris- 
tian vesture ; and the majority are occupied with 
vague speculations concerning the symbolic mean- 

62 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

ing of the individual items in an ecclesiastical 

Mr. Marriott assigns a reason for the then 
universal belief in the Levitical origin of ecclesi- 
astical vestments which is highly ingenious, and 
probably correct. I cannot do better than cite his 
words on the subject : 

' Churchmen who had travelled widely, as then 
some did, in East as well as West, could hardly 
fail to notice the remarkable fact, that at Con- 
stantinople as at Rome, at Canterbury as at Aries, 
Vienna or Lyons, one general type of ministering 
dress was maintained, varying only in some minor 
details ; and that this dress everywhere presented 
a most marked contrast to what was in their time 
the prevailing dress of the laity. And as all 
knowledge of classical antiquity had for three 
centuries or more been well-nigh extinct in the 
church, it was not less natural that they should 
have sought a solution of the phenomenon thus 
presented to them in a theory of Levitical origin, 
which from that time forward was generally 

Rabanus Maurus, as we have already stated 

{supra^ p. 12), was the first who endeavoured to 

draw the parallel between the Christian and the 

Jewish vestments. The older writers saw the 

* Vest. Christ., p. Ixxviii. 

'The Fifial Form of Vestments. 63 

difficulties in the way of establishing a 'complete 
correspondence. Thus Walfrid Strabo {circa 840), 
in chapter xxiv of his ' De Rebus Ecclesiasticis/ 
merely says : * Numero autem suo antiquis respon- 
dent ' (In their number they correspond to the 
ancient vestments) ; and he further admits that 
mass was formerly celebrated by a priest robed in 
everyday dress.* But, as the desire to prove the 
correspondence grew more widespread, changes and 
additions were rapidly made in the vestments 
themselves, with a view to assimilating the two 
systems. In the interval betv/een the ninth and 
eleventh centuries the number of recognised vest- 
ments was doubled by the accretions thus made 
to the original set. 

As the simplest and most intelligible method of 
exhibiting the extent of these changes, I have 
drawn up the subjoined table, in which are given 
the lists of vestments known to writers on ecclesi- 
astical matters during this interval of time. These 
lists are placed in parallel columns, and a uniform 
system of nomenclature has been adopted, so that 
the reader can see at a glance the date of the 
various additions : 

* Vestes etiam sacerdotales per incrementa ad eum qui 
nunc habetur auctae sunt ornatum. Nam primis temporibus 
communi indumento vestiti missas agebant, sicut et hactenus 
quidam Orientalium facere perhibentur. — Walafrid Strabo 
De Reb. Eccl., cap. xxlv (Migne cxiv 952). 


Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

circa 820. 

saec. X. 


of Chartres, 

oh. 1 1 15. 

Honorius of 

circa 1130. 

Innocent III, 
circa 1 200. 




























































From this table it will be seen that the number 
of vestments was increased, not so much by the 
invention of entirely new ornaments, as in the 
exaltation to the rank of separate ' vestments ' of 
what had previously been subordinate. The ring 
and staff, for instance, were known to the 
councillors at Toledo, but they do not appear in 
these lists till the twelfth century. 

We must now discuss each of these vestments, 
noting their shape and the peculiarities which they 
presented at different times. It will be convenient 
to follow the order of the above table. 

The Final Form of Vestments. 65 

I. ^rhe Alb. — We have traced the history of this 
vestment from its use as a purely secular garment 
till the ninth century, and have seen how its pro- 
portions, at first ample, were contracted till the 
vestment fitted with comparative tightness to the 
body, on account of the greater convenience which 
the less flowing form of the vestment offered for 
active administration in Divine service. 

The material of which the alb was made was 
usually linen, of more or less fine quality ; but 
we often meet with entries in old inventories of 
church goods which enumerate albs of other 
material. Silk and cloth of gold are very com- 
monly mentioned, and velvet is not unknown. 
Thus we have 

* Albe sunt viginti de serico principales.' — Inv. West- 
minster Abbey, 1388. 

* 30 albes of old cloth of Baudkyn.' — Inv. Peterborough, 


' One olde aulbe of whyte velvyt.' — Inv. St Martin Dover, 


The proper colour of the alb was white ; but in 
England coloured albs were sometimes worn, and 
we meet with such vestments in inventories passim. 
The following is a selection : 

* Red albes for Passion w^eek, 27. 
'40 Blue albes of divers sorts. 

* 7 Albes called Ferial black.' — Inv. Peterborough, 1539. 

* Alba de rubea sindone brudata.' — Inv. Canterbury. 

The ornamentation of the alb, in the earlier 


66 Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

years of the third period, sometimes consisted of 
round gold plates, just above the lower hem of 
the vestment, one on either side. Occasionally 
there were rows of small gold plates arranged 
round the lower edge. Albs of the first kind 
were called albae sigillatae, from the seal-like ap- 
pearance of the gold plates. Albs of the second 
kind were named albae bullatae. Dr Rock quotes 
the following : 

* Camisias albas sigillatas holosericas.' — Record of gift of 
King -^thelwulf to St Peter's, Rome, in Liber Pontiiic. in 
Vita Benedicti III, t. iii, p. i68, ed. Vignolio. 

*Alba bona et buUata.' — Peterborough, a.d. 1189. 

The more usual ornamentation, however, and 
that which became universal in later years, con- 
sisted in ornamental patches of embroidery, tech- 
nically called apparels^ sewn on to various parts of 
the vestment. There were two such rectangular 
patches just above the lower hem,"^ one in front, 
one behind ; two similar patches, one on the back, 
the other on the breast ; two small patches, one on 
each cuff; a narrow strip encircling the aperture 
for the head, more for use (as a binding to prevent 
tearing) than for ornament ; and, in earlier 
examples, two narrow strips running down in 

* Very often — perhaps more often than not — the lower 
hem was ornamented with a narrow edging of embroidery 
running all round. In some albs as represented on Conti- 
nental monuments there is a considerable distance between 
the apparel and the hem. 

The Final Form of Vestme?its, 67 

front and two behind, like the clavi of the Roman 

In the earliest representations of albs, as seen on 
sculptured monuments, the vestment is left plain; 
one of the earliest apparelled albs being on an 
effigy to the memory of Bishop Giffard, at 
Worcester, 1301. This, however, does not imply 
more than that the apparels were originally painted 
on, and that the paint has worn off. 

Another difference is observable between the 
cuff-apparels of early effigies and of those of later 
date. In the early albs the cuff-apparel invariably 
encircles the whole wrist ; but in later specimens 
we find that it has shrunk to a small square patch, 
sewn on the part of the sleeve which is toward 
the back of the hand. 

Dr Rock has shown some reason for believing 
that the apparels were occasionally hung loose 
over their proper place ; the lower hem apparels 
being suspended from the girdle, and those on 
the breast and back being fastened together by 
two cords, between which the head was passed, 
and which consequently, when in position, ran 
across the shoulders. This was obviously sug- 
gested by convenience ; for the entry in the 
accounts of St Peter's, Sandwich — 

' for washing of an awbe and an amyce parleying to the 
vestments of the garters and flour de lice and for sewing on 
of the parelles of the same, v^ ' 

68 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

— tells us what we should have expected, that 
the apparels had to be removed from the vest- 
ment when it was washed, and sewn on again 
afterwards. It was only natural that some such 
plan as the loose suspension of the apparels should 
be followed ; for the constant ripping off and 
sewing on of the embroidery must have been not 
only laborious, but ultimately detrimental to the 

This entry gives us an instance of another fact, 
that vestments and suits of vestments were named 
after the pattern which was embroidered upon 
their apparels. A singular collection occurs in the 
Peterborough inventory, including 

'6 albes with Peter keys. 

* 6 albes called the Kydds. 

* 7 albes called Meltons. 
' 6 albes called Doggs.' 

Albs were sometimes worn plain, /.^., without 
apparel. The Salisbury Missal, for example, 
forbids the apparelled alb to be worn on Good 
Friday ; and it is not at all impossible that some 
of the plain albs, as represented on early monu- 
ments, are really intended for unadorned vest- 

Some difference of opinion seems to exist among 
the authorities about the mystical signification of 
this vestment. Rabanus Maurus holds it to in- 
culcate purity of life. Amalarius of Metz, con- 
trasting Jerome's description of the tight-fitting 

T^he Final Form of Vestments, 69 

Jewish tunic with the flowing alb of his own day, 
considers that it denotes the liberty of the New 
Testament dispensation as contrasted with the 
servitude of the Old. Pseudo-Alcuin thinks that 
it means perseverance in good deeds, and that 
therefore Joseph is described as wearing a tunica 
talaris among his brethren. ' For a tunic which 
reaches all the way to the ankles is a good work 
carried out to the end, for the ankle is the end 
of the body.' Ivo of Chartres asserts that it 
signifies the mortification and chastisement of the 
members. Honorius of Autun agrees more or less 
with Rabanus Maurus ; but Innocent III regards 
it as symbolical of newness of life, ' because it is 
as unlike as possible to the garments of skins 
which are made from dead animals, and with 
which Adam was clothed after his fall.' 

The following dimensions are among those given 
by Mrs Dolby as the correct measurements of an 
alb for a figure of medium height and ordinary 
proportions : 

Length behind when made - - - 4 9 

Length before - - - - - - 4 5 

Depth of shoulder-band - - - - o 8| 

Width of same o ^i 

Length of sleeve, outside of arm - - z \\ 

Width of sleeve at wrist folded in two - o 6\ 

Width of sleeve half-way up - - - o 9^ 

Length of neck-band - - - - 2 2o 

Width of same - - - - - o ij 

Opening down front - - - - ^ ^ i> 

JO Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

II. The Girdle, with which the alb is secured, is 
a narrow band, usually of silk, the ends of which 
terminate in a tassel. 

The colour of the girdle is properly white, 
though occasionally it varied with the colour of 
the day. Though (as stated) properly of silk, it 
is sometimes made of cotton. 

Occasionally the girdle was embroidered in 
colours. In the Westminster inventory of 1388 
we have : 

' Zone serice sunt septem diversi operis et diversorum 

The following is a selection of the esoteric 
meanings ascribed to this vestment : custodia 
mentis ; discretio o'mnium virtutum ; virtus con- 
tinentiae ; perfecta Christi caritas. 

The length of the girdle is stated at about four 
yards. The length of the alb, it should be noticed, 
was so considerable that it was necessary to draw 
it through the girdle and let it hang over above 
it. It is therefore extremely rare (if not unknown) 
for the girdle to be visible on mediaeval monuments, 
for even in those exceptional effigies in which the 
whole length of the alb is visible, the latter vest- 
ment entirely conceals the girdle by falling over it. 

III. The Amice. — This vestment was quite un- 
known in the earlier period : it was a mediaeval 

The Final Form of Vestments, j i 

The amice was clearly originally intended to 
serve as a hood ; and a survival of this use remains 
in the ritual of vesting, in which the priest first 
places the vestment on his head, with the prayer 
' Impone Domine capiti meo galeam salutis ad 
expugnandum diabolicos incursus,' before adjusting 
it round his neck. 

In several dioceses of France the amice was worn 
as a hood upon the head from All Saints' Day till 
Easter, and something of the same kind may have 
been the practice elsewhere ; thus, we find an effigy 
of a priest in Towyn, Merionethshire, and another 
in Beverley Minster, in which the amice is drawn 
over the head hoodwise. 

In shape the amice was a rectangle (the dimen- 
sions are given as thirty-six inches by twenty-five 
inches). At each end strings were sewn, which 
were of sufficient length to cross over the breast 
and encircle the body. An apparel of embroidered 
work ran along one of the long sides ; so that 
when the vestment was in position it was turned 
down, like a collar, over the other vestments round 
the neck, and so far open as to leave the throat of 
the wearer exposed. A small cross was marked in 
the centre of the upper edge of the vestment. 

So much of this vestment was concealed that 
there appears to have been little or no scope for 
variety of treatment, either in form or material. 
The Jatter seems alwavs to have been linen. The 

72 Ecclesiastical Vestments, 

orphreys (embroidered edges), of course, are sub- 
ject to the same unlimited variation of design as 
the corresponding ornaments on other vestments ; 
but the shape is constant. 

The same uniformity is not, however, observ- 
able in the symbolism of this vestment. The 
variety of meanings is even greater than is the case 
with the alb and its girdle. We are told that it 
signifies {inter alia) the Holy Incarnation ; the 
purity of good works; the subjugation of the 
tongue ; the earthy origin and heavenly goal of the 
human body ; the necessity of justice and mercy 
in addition to temperance and abstention from 
evil ; and the endurance of present hardships. 

IV. The Stole. — The early history of the stole 
has been discussed in the preceding chapter, in 
considering the orarium. 

Why, or when, the proper name of the vest- 
ment became * stole,' or stola^ does not appear. 
It is named stola in the later ecclesiastical canons 
of our second period ; but it is not clear how 
stola^ which in its original significance denoted a 
flowing tunic, like the under-garment of the 
Roman or the alha of the priests of the second 
period, came to signify a narrow strip of orphrey- 
work. It is quite certain that it cannot be ex- 
plained (as some writers have attempted to do) 
as the orphrey of a lost vestment which has sur- 
vived while the bulk of it has disappeared ; for 

The Final Form of Vestments, 73 

the continuity of the stole and the orarium is a 
matter of historic certainty, and we have already 
shown reason for assigning an entirely different 
origin to the latter vestment. Such an evolution, 
too, as that of a narrow strip from a large vest- 
ment is not natural, and is contrary to our ob- 
servation in the history of other vestments ; and it 
assumes the existence of embroidered ' orphreys ' 
at a time far too remote for such ornamentation 

Fig. 6.— Stole-ends, showing Varieties in Form and Orna- 

to be found. This hypothesis has suggested one 
of the less probable etymologies which have been 
proposed for the word orarium. 

The stole is a narrow strip of embroidered 
work, nine or ten feet long and two or three inches 
wide. In its original form it was of the same width 
throughout ; but about the thirteenth or four- 
teenth century we find its ends terminating in a 
rectangular compartment, giving each the appear- 
ance of a tau cross. This was in order to secure 
extra room for the cross with which every stole 

74 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

was supposed to be marked at the end. For the 
same purpose the modern stole expands gradually 
from the middle point, where also a cross is 

Priests wear the stole between the alb and 
chasuble, crossed over the breast, and secured in 
that position by the girdle of the alb — nowadays 
only when officiating at mass, formerly on all 
occasions on which the stole was worn. Deacons 
generally secure it over the left shoulder and under 
the right arm, thereby approximating the disposi- 
tion of the vestment to that of the ancient Roman 
ornament from which the vestment takes its origin. 
Bishops wear the stole between the alb and tunicle"^'^ 
pendent perpendicularly on either side of the 
breast ; the pectoral cross which they wear is 
supposed to supply the place of the crossed 

The embroidery and material of the stole were 
supposed to tally with that of the alb, with which 
it was worn. The same rule applies to the 
maniple, and we commonly find in inventories 
that the three vestments are catalogued together. 
But if we can trust the evidence of brasses and 
other monuments, the vestments of different suits 
were worn together in a very haphazard manner, 

* The late brass of Bishop Goodrich, in Ely Cathedral, 
represents the stole between the tunicle and dalmatic. This 
is exceptional, and probably an engraver's error. 

The Final Form of Vestments, 75 

and it does not seem possible to extract any defi- 
nite rule as to the collocation of different vest- 
ments embroidered with different patterns of 


The ends of the stole— below the embroidered 
cross when such existed— terminated in a fringe ; 
and it was not uncommon in earlier years for 
little bells to be included in this fringe. Thus we 

have : 

' Una stola cum frixio Anglicano cum pedis albis et endicis 
etcampanellis.'-Inv. Vest. Papae Bonif. VIII, cit. ap. Rock, 
' Church of our Fathers.' 

The stole is said to signify ' the easy yoke of 
Christ.' Authorities earlier than the twelfth 
century are agreed on this point, though they 
differ on some minor details in the subordinate 
symbolism of its length, disposition, etc. But 
Honorius of Autun asserts that it signifies 'in- 
nocence,' and makes some vague and, to the 
present writer, unintelligible allusions to Esau's 
sale of his birthright ; while Innocent III, with a 
faint reminiscence of the earlier exegesis, declares 
it to signify the servitude which Christ under- 
went for the salvation of mankind— referring to 

Phil, ii 5-8. 

V. The Maniple.— Tht history of the develop- 
ment of the maniple follows closely on that of the 
stole. With a very few exceptions, the maniple, as 
represented on mediaeval monuments, differs from 


Ecclesiastical Vestments, 


associated, in size 

the stole, with which it 

The maniple was originally worn over the 
fingers of the left hand. This arrangement was 
most inconvenient, as it was constantly liable to 
slip off, and the fingers had to be held in a con- 

FiG. 7.— Archbishop Stigand. (From the Bayeux tapestry, showing 
maniple carried over fingers.) 

strained attitude throughout the service. It was 
early found more com^fortable and convenient to 
place the vestment over the left wrist ; but no 

* One of these exceptions is presented by a small brass 
of a priest (Thomas Westeley, 1535) at Wyvenhoc, near 

•The Final Form of Vestments. J J 

definite rule seems to have been formulated, and, 
indeed, in some parts of France the earlier custom 
seems to have survived till the middle of the 
eighteenth century. When placed on the wnst it 
was either buttoned or sewn so as to form a per- 
manent loop, so that it should not slip off the 


In a few effigies the maniple is represented on 
the right wrist. For this there is no hturgical 
authority, and it can only be attributed to the 
blundering of the engraver or sculptor.* 

In reference to its original utilitarian purpose, 
Amalarius assigns to the maniple the significance 
of the ' purification of the mind.' Pseudo-Alcmn 
holds it to denote this present life (in qua super- 
fluos humores patimur). It is also said to denote 
penitence, caution, and the prize in the racecourse. 
The width of the maniple is the same as that of 
the stole— the length is given at from three feet 
to three feet eight inches. 

- There is a remarkable statuette of alabaster in the 
Cambridge Museum of Archaeology, which originally formed 
part of I retable in Whittlesford Church, Cambridgeshire. 
In this figure, which is clad in Eucharistic vestments, the 
maniple is absent, and its place seems to be supplied by a 
chain suspended over the right wrist. This may, however, 
represent some such saint as St Leonard, whose emblem is a 
chain and manacles : in which case it is just possible that 
the sculptor omitted the maniple to avoid the inartistic sym- 
metry which would result from its insertion. 


Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

VI. The Dalmatic. — I am unable to find any 
representation of this vestment older than the 
ninth century, showing the special features which 
distinguished it from the other vestments of the 
mediaeval period. Before that date the dalmatic 

it v!^ 

-'i'- ^t". 


HI- V* '^ 


'" ^"- / 

/1*r\ ".■ ts 


/Mrrii; ; 

/«/ »- ^LftV vi' 

/nS// a^^^«. '^' 


V'' V 


»• 4 /B 

91 nSW^ V 1 '- 


1 ^- [ ID 


.'^^ 1^ 

If #1 

' [^ 

>7'. i^^ 

MJ vm' 



\ 11 







^i# # 

1 yj^^r. 

w • tf*^» 

m ''^' 


1/ s 







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.<^^ 1 

Fig. 8.— Deacon in Epis- 
copal Dalmatic. (From 
Rand worth Church.) 

Fig. 9. 

■Deacon in Diagonal Dal- 

seems to have been identical with the all?a, pos- 
sibly distinguished from it by being a little shorter 
when, as at Rome, the two vestments were worn 

In the mediaeval period, however, this vestment 
(and its modification, the tunicle) is marked out 

The Final Form of Vestments, 79 

from all others by being slit up a short distance 
on either side. These side-slits were decorated 
with fringes ; but here an important theoretical 
distinction must be observed between the dalmatic 
of a bishop and that of a deacon. This was often 
neglected in mediaeval times, and is consequently 
frequently overlooked by ecclesiologists of the 
present day. In the dalmatic, as worn by a 
bishop, the side-slits, the lower hems, and the 
ends of the sleeves were fringed ; in the dalmatic 
of a deacon there were also fringes, hut only on the 
left sleeve and along the left slit. 

The true reason for this distinction is probably 
to be sought in the same direction as that which 
prompted the peculiar diaconal method of wearing 
the ovarium — convenience. The deacon, who was 
practically the servitor at the altar, required to 
have his right side free and unhampered as much 
as possible ; the heavy fringes, which might have 
impeded him, were therefore dispensed with upon 
that side. But such an explanation would by no 
means satisfy the early mediaeval writers on vest- 
ments, and we are accordingly informed that as 
the left side typifies this present life and the right 
that which is to come, so the fringes on the left 
indicate those cares through which we must pass 
in this world, while their absence on the right 
symbolizes our freedom from care in the world to 
come. Why the bishop was not regarded as 

8o Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

exempt from care in the future world does not 

Another singular piece of blundering meets us 
at St David's Cathedral. Here we have two 
effigies representing clerics, who, though they 
wear the dalmatic, yet show the stole disposed 
symmetrically, in the manner of priests.* Either 
the presence of the dalmatic or the presbyteral 
stole must be incorrect ; but in our ignorance of 
the identity of the persons whom these effigies 
commemorate we cannot decide which. Bloxam's 
idea, that these figures represent archdeacons, 
though ingenious, is untenable ; for there is no 
authority for assigning the dalmatic to an arch- 
deacon of priestly grade ; and we have other 
figures of priests known to have been archdeacons 
in various parts of England, none of which show 
the dalmatic. 

The ornamentation of the dalmatic before the 
twelfth century consisted either of vertical bands 
(like the clavi) or else of horizontal bands, of 
orphrey-work. After that date the plain white 
vestment was superseded by one covered all over 
with elaborate embroidery. This is especially the 
case with the episcopal dalmatic, which is only 
what we should have expected. 

We have already stated one symbolical meaning 

* This description is given on the authority of Bloxam, 
companion volume, p. 64. 

The Final Form of Vestments, 8 1 

attaching to the dalmatic and its appurtenances. 
A few more may be of interest : the Passion of 
Christ ; the * pure religion and undefiled,' as 
described by St James ; the Old and New Testa- 
ments ; the crucifixion of the world in the wearer ; 
the wide mercy of Christ, etc. 

All of the early writers are misled by the decree 
of Pope Sylvester into imagining that Sylvester 
first instituted this garment as a purely ecclesi- 
astical vestment ; some even go the length of 
assigning a mystical meaning to the colohium, 
which it superseded. Even Walafrid Strabo, who 
in many respects is the least mystical of the early 
mediaeval writers on ecclesiastical vestments, is 
deceived, though he wisely contents himself with 
stating the fact that Sylvester had so commanded, 
without attempting to assign any reason for his so 

VII. The Chasuble. — The variety of materials 
of w^hich the chasuble was made may be gathered 
from the following extracts from the Lincoln 
Inventory of 1536 : 

' Imprimis a Chesable of rede cloth of gold w* orfreys 
before and behind sett w' perles blew white and rede w^ 
plaits of gold enamelled.' 

* Item a Chesuble of Rede veivett w' kateryn wheils of 

* Item a chesuble of Rede sylk browdered w' falcons & 
leopardes of gold.' 


82 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

* Item a chesable of whyte damaske browdered w' flowres 
of gold.' 

' Item a chesable of whyte tartaron browdered w* trey- 
foyles of gold.' 

* Item a chesable of purpur satten lynyd w' blew bukerham 
havyng dyverse scripturs.' 

' Item a chesable of cloth of tyshew w' orfreys of nedyll 

' Item a chesable of sundon browdered w^ mones k sterres 
lyned w' blew bukerham.' 

Of the materials here mentioned the commonest 
were velvet, silk, or cloth of gold. 

In the latest days of the transitional and the 
earliest days of the mediaeval period, there were 
two kinds of chasubles in use, the eucharistic and 
the processional. The distinction between them 
was utilitarian rather than ritualistic ; it consisted 
in a hood sewn to the back of the latter, and 
designed as a covering for the head during out- 
door processions in inclement weather. But the 
processional chasuble early gave place to the cope ; 
and a hooded chasuble does not appear to be 
extant in representations of date later than the 
tenth century. 

The manner in which the early chasubles were 
made seems to have been as follows : A semi- 
circular piece of the cloth of which the vestment 
was to consist was taken, and a notch cut at the 
centre, so that the shape of the cloth resembled 
that of the figure in the annexed diagram ; the 

The Final Form of Vestments, 83 

two straight edges corresponding to the lines AB 
and CD were then brought together and sewn ; 
the result was a vestment somewhat of extinguisher 
shape, with a hole in the middle for the neck, and 
enveloping the body all round to an equal depth 
each way. The result was that when the priest 
had to raise his hands the vestment was gathered 
inconveniently on either shoulder, and probably 
injured by being crushed, certainly hampering the 
wearer by its weight. This difficulty was sur- 
mounted by a very simple expedient. The cloth, 
instead of being shaped as before, was cut into an 
oval form, and an opening was made at the centre for 
the wearer's head, the consequence being that when 
in position the vestment hung down over the front 
and back to some distance, and covered the upper 
part of the arms, though not sufficiently so to 
interfere with their free action. The latter shape 
is that which meets us all through the mediaeval 
period throughout the Western Church. 


Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

The modern Roman Church has made yet 
another innovation which, although it has its dis- 
advantages, certainly reduces the inconvenience of 
the vestment to a minimum. 
Two fairly large semicircular 
pieces are cut from each side 
of the front of the vestment, 
thereby permitting the hands 
to be brought together when 
necessary without crushing the 
vestment between the forearms, 
which was inevitable in the old 
form. But the wasp-waisted 
appearance of this chasuble is 
ugly, and attempts are being 
made to abolish it and to 
return to the mediaeval pattern. 
Yet another small distinc- 
tion is to be found in the shape 
of individual examples of the 
mediaeval period. We find 

many of these vestments to be 
Fio. 10. — Sir Peter , n- • i 

Legh, Knight and made Circular or elliptical, so 

Priest. (From his , , , i j • 11 

brass at Winwick. that the lower Dorderis rouiided 

Vested in chasuble ^^ . ^j^-j^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ ^^^ 

found to be made in the shape 
known as the vesica piscis^ so that the lower 
extremities terminate in a point more or less 
sharp. Writers who cannot be content with 

The Final Form of Vestments. 85 

simple or commonplace explanations of ^ such 
phenomena as this have laboured in vain to 
invent some esoteric signification which will 
account for it. Perhaps the most common-sense 
guess is that made by Dr Rock, who thinks that 
the rounded chasuble was used during the period 
of rounded architecture— the Saxon and Norman 
—and the pointed chasuble during the pointed 
periods of architecture : a suggestion which we 
should have no difficulty in accepting at once, 
were it not for the fact that scores of brasses and 
other monuments of the Curvilinear and Recti- 
linear periods in architecture exist showing 
rounded chasubles; while (among others) the 
effigy of Bishop John de Tour, at Bathampton 
near Bath, a.d. i 123, shows a pointed vestment. 
We have no space to enter into particulars of the 
other suggestions— the symbolism of the vesica 
piscis, the perfection of the circle, etc. 

The simple explanation seems to be that the 
difference depended merely on the taste and fancy 
of the seamstress or of the engraver of the monu- 
ment. It would be perfectly possible to draw up 
a list of monuments in which the point of the 
chasuble shows every stage from extreme sharpness 
to extreme bluntness, and so, by one step further, 
into a continuous curve. I'his demonstrates that 
no rule was necessarily followed in choosing the 
shape of the chasuble, beyond that of making a 

86 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

fairly symmetrical vestment which should hang 
down in front and behind, and should have a hole 
in the middle through which the priest's head 
should be passed. Nor can we even say that fashion 
affected the shape of the vestment ; for were such 
a list as I have mentioned to be printed here, it 
would be seen to consist of the most haphazard 
and random series of dates and names of places 
thrown together without the slightest regard to 
chronological sequence or geographical position. 

The dimensions of a pointed chasuble (circa 
fourteenth century) at Aix-la-Chapelle, which has 
been accepted as a standard for modern imitation, 
are given as follows : 

ft. in. 
Depth of shoulder, measuring from neck - 2 9 

Length of side, from shoulder to point - 411 

Depth from neck to point in front - - 4 6 

„ „ „ behind - - 4 ic 

The chasuble of St Thomas of Canterbury, at 
Sens Cathedral, which is of the old extinguisher 
shape, is three feet ten inches in depth. In the 
oldest chasubles the length of the vestment behind 
was greater — often much greater — than in front. 
There is a more even balance between back and 
front in later mediaeval times. 

Passing now from the manner of making the 
chasuble to the manner of ornamenting it, we find 
just the same divergence, with apparently just as 

The Final Form of Vestments, 87 

little rule. It is probable that, as the decoration 
was the most costly part of the manufacture of a 
chasuble, the amount of it was regulated by the 
resources available to pay for it. 

We propose to consider at the end of the next 
chapter the classes of patterns with which vest- 
ments generally were decorated in the middle 
ages ; at present, therefore, we shall confine our- 
selves to noticing briefly the positions in which 
these decorations were placed on the chasuble. 

The groundwork of the vestment was either 
plain (invariably so in the older examples) or else 
embroidered or woven with a pattern, according 
to taste and means; the ornamentation proper con- 
sisted of strips of embroidered or ' orphrey ' work, 
as it is technically called, sewn on to the vestment. 
These strips were sewn either on the edge or cross- 
wise on the front and back of the chasuble. 

The edge orphrey is the more frequently met 
with in the brasses of parish priests, "and it is rarely 
so elaborately decorated as are the central orphreys. 
It usually consisted of some simple pattern of 
flowers or geometrical figures recurring at regular 
intervals round the edge. 

Greater variety is seen in the shape of the 
central orphrey, which, being the more elaborate 
and expensive, is almost invariably found repre- 
sented in the monuments of bishops, abbots, and 
other dignitaries, and in the efligies of priests of 

88 Ecclesiastical Vestments. 

the richer churches. It sometimes, though rarely, 
consisted of a simple * pillar ' on front and on 
the back of the vestment ; usually this ornamenta- 
tion was extended by the addition of branches of 
orphrey work given off on either side, which 
passed over the shoulder and joined the corre-